Prompted by the coronavirus pandemic, Michigan State University’s WKAR Public Media is paving the way for the community to access valuable information, including content to facilitate student learning.
Encompassing WKAR-TV, WKAR Radio, WKAR.org, Radio Reading Service, WKAR Digital studios and WKAR Family, the network is implementing new initiatives to help people stay strong, healthy and connected during the pandemic crisis.
These include offering educational resources for K-12 students after public school closings and a live blog with updates on the virus.
The blog is featured on wkar.org and is updated daily. The updates are also translated to Spanish, with other languages underway.
“We are reaching out to other potential partners that could help us add additional languages, but we expect that may take some time and additional resources,” said Susanne Elkins, director of broadcasting and general manager at WKAR Public Media. “It’s really important to get as much news and information out as possible.”
Shawn Turner, a professor in the College of Communication Arts and Sciences and national security analyst for CNN, is also developing content that will be broadcasted to discuss the crisis. The production is meant to reassure the state by having experts add depth and context to issues in the daily news, Elkins said.
WKAR-TV, a Public Broadcasting Station member station, is also broadcasting free, educational children’s programming that will promote at-home learning. With the help of early childhood researchers and MSU faculty experts, these interactive, curriculum-based shows will cover emotional health, science, math and the arts.
“The broadcast is an important service because we want to make sure we are not increasing disparities among families,” Elkins said. “We want to make sure that all families have access to educational content and resources. We’re working on a lot of different platforms to make sure we’re covering all families that need us.”
The programs are available for all ages and allow parents to enhance learning objectives with outside resources, Elkins said.
“Parents can utilize our programming in ways that I think are really special,” Elkins said. “Research shows that if you are connecting those concepts online through little games, books or other resources, that you’re extending the learning even further.”
Parents can also sign up for an e-newsletter with tips to help children learn and play at home. It will highlight educational resources coming from MSU as well as national resources, Elkins said. "We think we have a very robust toolkit of information for parents and families."
Reaching half of one million mid-Michigan residents, WKAR is driven to connect people to ideas that inspire personal growth, curiosity and positive change.
“We’re lucky as a public broadcasting station that we are a part of a community that is so supportive of education, the arts and the mission of WKAR, and support us throughout the year with volunteering and financing," Elkins said. "And so, at times like this, it’s our responsibility to make sure we’re responding and that we're supporting the community in ways they’ve come to expect."
For more information, visit wkar.org