Taking to the airwaves: Partnership between state education, broadcast authority puts educational resources on Oklahoma televisions for free

Michael Smith
A screen shot of OSDE Assistant Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction Levi Patrick during a Monday webinar. Patrick hosted the webinar on Facebook Live to familiarize teachers, parents, and students with how to use television programming available over-the-air that can help finish the 2019-2020 school year without classrooms.

Students, teachers and parents across Oklahoma are preparing to finish out the school year without classrooms, so extra help will be broadcast to their homes for free over the air. The Oklahoma Educational Television Authority on Monday started its learning-at-home programming to help students complete the 2019-2020 school year.

Teachers and parents were also given some advice on how to incorporate OETA broadcasts into lesson plans during an online seminar Monday. The nearly 40-minute Facebook Live stream from the Oklahoma State Department of Education included education and broadcast officials discussing the television programs and current state of distance learning.

The Oklahoma State Board of Education last week voted to keep public schools closed through the remainder of the school year. School districts were granted various waivers to develop distance learning plans and state officials have started making resources available for parents, students, and teachers.

As districts develop and implement distance learning in response to the COVID-19 related school closure, a partnership between OSDE and OETA will now provide broadcasts from 18 transmission sites to aid in distance learning.

Beginning on Monday, daytime broadcasts on the OETA World channel will correspond with specific grades and subjects between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. through April 3, according to a Sunday statement from OETA.

“Each episode or series directly correlates to lessons and resources made available through PBS LearningMedia which have been designed to meet federal and state standards for grades PreK through 12,” read the statement.

The programming may not be available to some PBS viewers since cable and satellite providers may not carry all OETA subchannels. In Ardmore, televisions with an antenna can receive OETA World broadcasts on digital channel 36.2.

The channel’s 12-hour block of broadcasting each day begins with programming for students up to third grade, continues for fourth through eighth grade students, and finishes for students in ninth grade and above. Each block is further divided into subjects and some high school subjects vary by day.

The Monday afternoon webinar also involved state education officials explaining how some of the distance learning resources were developed. Levi Patrick, OSDE Assistant Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction, moderated the stream that focused on how OETA broadcasts can be used in conjunction with other online resources.

According to Patrick, the OETA broadcasts are one of many tools becoming available to students, parents, and teachers. Other state education officials gave overviews on how existing programs, like Oklahoma Edge, can be incorporated into new distance learning plans.

“Everything is a little upside down right now and we’re all doing our best to navigate and keep it together, to be honest,” Patrick said during the webinar. “We just hope this is one other way that you just feel reassured that we are looking out for you and trying to make sure that you can meet the needs of your kids,” he said.

Schools will resume classes through distance learning on April 6.