By Phil Hutcheson, Interim Executive Director of Alabama Public Television
Sixty-five years ago this month, Alabama Public Television became the nation’s first educational television network. Through the years we have faced many challenges and, on every occasion, we have responded by adapting and innovating to meet the needs of all Alabamians.
When schools closed last month, we immediately responded by changing our broadcast services to provide curriculum-related programming from 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday. Our statewide broadcast signal reaches more than 1.4 million Alabama households—96 percent of Alabama’s residents. Because of our unique ability to reach so many Alabamians, we have partnered with the Alabama State Department of Education to support educators and families as they embark on a new and unexpected journey to provide distance learning for students by supplying high-quality content accessible to nearly every household in Alabama.
We are streaming educational programming live on our website for the very first time to meet the needs of students who do not have access to a television. Families can now access Alabama Public Television’s instructional programs through their smart phones, tablets and computers. Early learning resources are also available 24/7 through PBS KIDS online, the PBS KIDS app and over the air.
To supplement the changes we have made to our broadcast schedule and to support the efforts of teachers and parents, we are excited to unveil the next phase of our COVID-19 response: our brand new website. In addition to a live stream of educational content, Learn at Home with Alabama Public Television includes an interactive broadcast schedule, allowing you to find programs by grade level and subject area. Our new website also includes a digital media library filled with Alabama state standards- aligned lessons, videos, activities and resources. The digital media library is fully customizable, allowing you to search for instructional materials by grade level, subject area and more. The media library is also fully integrated with Google Classroom and Remind, which are used to connect students and teachers while they are away from their classrooms.
Our new website can be found at aptv.org/education. There you will find a wealth of specialized digital resources, including curated content for early childhood, parents and adult learners, as well as professional development opportunities for educators, caregivers and parents. You can look to PBS Parents to find activities for kids, as well as tips for de-stressing your family and keeping a positive attitude. And next week we will begin offering webinars to parents to help them learn to use Alabama Public Television’s many resources. Registration can be found on the Learn at Home homepage.
The past few weeks have been undeniably challenging for parents and educators alike. Meeting the demands of sheltering in place while facilitating your children’s learning is overwhelming. But know that you are not alone. Alabama Public Television is working hard to help parents and children connect with resources to help you through these months of school closures.
Alabama Public Television remains committed to the educational mission for which we were created decades ago. Our efforts are directed toward helping Alabama reach true school equity statewide. Every student in our state deserves an equal opportunity in education, regardless of the wealth of the school district, and Alabama Public Television’s goal is to take us there.
With our free accessibility and statewide reach, Alabama Public Television is uniquely positioned to serve all Alabamians in this time of need. We take great pride in our ability to rise to this challenge with a COVID-19 response that is the embodiment of our mission statement, “Alabama Public Television is committed to enriching the lives of Alabama citizens.”
We look forward to serving the people of Alabama no matter what the future holds.
Philip F. Hutcheson
Interim Executive Director, Alabama Public Television