Frequently Asked Questions

The Michigan Learning Channel is a statewide project connecting all Michigan students with high-quality distance learning content via a 24-7 broadcast television channel, streaming service, and a robust website with on-demand video and supplemental materials. At launch, the channel will offer instructional programming for children in grades PreK-3, adding grade levels and subjects over time. The channel is operated by Detroit Public Television and is a partnership of all six Michigan PBS stations. The channel’s content will be developed in conjunction with Michigan’s educational community, and each station will work closely with local schools to engage teachers, principals, and families in using PBS’ educational content.

Why is it needed?

The Michigan Learning Channel (MLC) was developed in response to the reality that fully one-third of Michigan students — nearly 500,000 students — do not have access to reliable home internet, and even those who do have internet often lack access to sufficient devices, bandwidth, or technical knowledge to participate in online learning. By presenting high-quality standards-aligned content over broadcast and on multiple platforms, MLC will offer unprecedented access while also offering educator-approved content that can benefit all students.

How can I watch the channel?

The Michigan Learning Channel will be available on a variety of platforms with the goal of being accessible to as many Michigan families as possible. The channel plans to launch statewide in January 2021.

  • Broadcast television: MLC will be available over the airwaves across the state starting in January 2021. You will need to rescan your TV to receive the channel. To access the broadcast channel, viewers will need a television and a basic digital antenna, which is available at most retailers for less than $10. The channel is not yet available on cable TV. MLC will be available on channel 56.5 in the Detroit metro area and will appear at different channel numbers in other parts of the state. Please check MichiganLearning.org in January for a complete list of where to find the channel.
  • Digital Livestream: Families will be able to stream the channel in real time to any device. The live feed is available at MichiganLearning.org
  • Online On-Demand: Instructional video from the channel will be available at MichiganLearning.org. The website will also include additional lesson materials including worksheets and related lessons.

Can I watch MLC lessons before January?

Yes! Detroit Public Television will air a “Michigan Learning Channel Preview” on our WORLD Channel 56.4 starting November 2. The preview is a 4-hour block for grades K-3, which will air daily from 8 a.m.-noon Monday through Friday, with kindergarten at 8 a.m., first grade at 9 a.m., second grade at 10 a.m., and third grade at 11 a.m. It includes:

  • English Language Arts lessons on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday on the hour
  • Reading lessons for English Language Learners on Tuesday and Thursday
  • Math lessons every day Monday-Friday

The morning K-3 block leads into curriculum-aligned PBS content for grades 6-12 which will air from noon-5 p.m. on the WORLD Channel. This service will be available on the air to all viewers in the metro Detroit area, and this sample content will also be available on MichiganLearning.org starting in late October.

How will content be selected?

The Michigan Learning Channel is working closely with the state’s educational community to select and produce video content. The Michigan Association of Intermediate School Administrators (MAISA) will lead content selection and development alongside Detroit Public TV, guided by the MLC advisory board. This team will carefully vet content for quality and alignment to Michigan standards and will select educational materials and activities to align with channel content. In the first year, MLC content will come from a combination of sources: instructional television produced by PBS stations around the country, video lessons created by teachers, and MLC-produced content.

How can teachers use the channel?

The content on the channel is designed to support– not replace — the student-teacher relationship by offering high-quality standards-aligned video content, which supports learning both in and out of the classroom. There are a number of ways this content may be used to support learning:

  • Video instruction may be used as a “flipped classroom,” where students watch the lesson and then follow up with a teacher to discuss content, complete assignments, and receive individualized support.
  • Teachers can use the on-demand video on the website to assign specific lessons. When the full website is rolled out in winter 2021, teachers will be able to search the site by which Michigan standards are covered and use built-in tools to share lessons to common systems like Google Classroom and Schoology.
  • Shows on the weekend and outside school hours will continue to reinforce skills being learned in school. MLC will use the breaks between programs to help parents understand their student’s learning goals and encourage parent-teacher communication.
  • Each local PBS station in Michigan will have engagement and support staff dedicated to helping teachers use MLC resources while also gathering teacher feedback to improve the channel. Please reach out to your local station or sign up for the MLC mailing list at MichiganLearning.org for more information.

How are other PBS stations involved?

The Michigan Learning Channel will be broadcast by all six Michigan Public Television stations. Each Michigan station will also lead engagement for its region, actively reaching out to school districts, teachers, and families to show people how to use the channel and share resources.

MLC will also partner with PBS stations across the country that are also producing instructional content and may air programming produced in other states that are of high quality and aligned to Michigan standards. MLC’s preview phase, which will run in November and December on DPTV’s WORLD channel, includes content from Rocky Mountain PBS in Colorado and from WCNY in Syracuse, NY.

How will people learn about the channel?

Combined, Michigan’s six PBS stations reach 4 to 5 million Michiganders each week. Each station will promote the channel on-air and online with directed messaging encouraging parents and students to use the new channel. Each station will also have one or more staff members who are dedicated to reaching out to schools, teachers, and families, sharing resources and showing people how to use the channel.

Does this replace going to school?

No, the Michigan Learning Channel does not replace school enrollment. MLC strongly encourages all students to enroll in school and plans to run messaging on the channel promoting school enrollment. Michigan law requires a parent or legal guardian of a child from the age of six to sixteen to send his or her child to school during the entire school year, except under certain limited circumstances (MCL 380.1561).

Do I still need to connect with my teacher?

Yes! The channel supports learning and student success with lessons and materials, but students need a dedicated teacher who can support their education, assess their progress, and personalize instruction to their needs. Some schools may choose to use lessons from the channel to replace some direct instruction and support them with follow-up from a teacher either online, by phone, or through printed materials. Homeschooling families may also find the channel’s instruction useful as a supplement to planned homeschool activities.

Will my child have to take tests?

The Michigan Learning Channel does not offer testing, but may link to formative assessments that teachers and parents may use to evaluate whether their student understands the material. MLC strongly encourages all students to be enrolled in a school and to follow the testing procedures laid out by the school where they’re enrolled.

What’s on the website?

All video lessons that air on MLC will also be available here on-demand on our website at MichiganLearning.org. Website visitors will be able to browse lessons by grade and subject, and when the full website is launched in winter 2021, will be able to search for lessons according to which Michigan standards are covered in the lesson. The website will also include additional resources related to each lesson, which may include worksheets, lesson plans, additional videos, or links to related content on PBS LearningMedia and other sites.