When our world came to a standstill in March 2020, the digital divide across Michigan became glaringly evident as children and families tried to navigate remote learning when many had limited or no internet access. DPTV met daily with educators as the pandemic began. DPTV heard their challenges and worked with them find solutions. Immediately we changed daily programming on our primary channel to school-aged content complimenting the lessons teachers in the viewing area were providing to their students at home. We recognized that not all students have reliable internet options, but the vast majority have a television in their home. This uniquely positioned DPTV to lead through and beyond the pandemic. Our main channel’s temporary content change bred an entirely new channel- the Michigan Learning Channel (MLC).
DPTV worked in partnership with all five other PBS stations across the state, assembling a geographically diverse initiative advisory committee, content advisory committees to build a channel by Michigan for Michigan. Equity of access across the state has been the driving force of the channel, which provides trusted, quality, standards-aligned content to every child in Michigan. DPTV conceived, designed, funded, and launched the channel in less than six months. Hundreds of hours of collaboration with stakeholders and over 30 content partners allowed the MLC to launch on January 4, 2021.
The MLC has quickly become a vital distance learning resource for Michigan students, teachers, and families. Audience numbers grow daily. The channel supports learning in every home- urban, suburban, and rural. The MLC is available free of charge over the air, with live stream and on demand lessons available, 24/7 at MichiganLearning.org. High quality instructional content, combined with learning activities, professional development, in-person events and family activities are driving the MLC’s success with users.
The MLC Engagement Team includes a dedicated person at each Michigan PBS station who directly supports educators and families in their community. MLC produced programs including Read, Write, ROAR!, Math Mights, and Extra Credit use Michigan teachers and students to engage learners and demonstrate high quality teaching practices. The MLC is building a library of resources for the state to help students to be successful.