As Indiana schools prepare to continue e-learning in 2021 to protect against the spread of COVID-19, more than 84,000 Hoosier students still don’t have Internet access at home. Some schools and organizations are working to install temporary hotspots to close the learning gap, but the Indiana Public Broadcast Stations group (IPBS) is working on a cheaper and perhaps better alternative. IPBS stations currently beam television signals into nearly every Indiana household. Using those same signals, the stations can also “datacast” specific and targeted educational materials from teachers into homes. It’s cheaper than installing Internet hotspots, won’t be stymied by large files and comes with the added bonus of PBS-level educational curriculum. Jennings County School Corporation will use the option in January, which will make Indiana only the second state in the union to teach via datacasting.
Brad Kimmel has been appointed the new executive director of Indiana University’s award-winning Radio and Television Services (RTV), IU Bloomington Provost and Executive Vice President Lauren Robel has announced. Also known as Indiana Public Media, Radio and Television Services includes WFIU Public Radio and WTIU Public Television.
Eight works with Indiana connections are winners of the 2020 Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana Authors Awards. The recent announcement unveiled the updated awards’ inaugural class of honorees, which includes a New York Times bestseller and a Lambda Literary Award finalist as well as authors who have won or been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, National Book and National Book Critics Circle awards. Indiana Public Broadcasting Stations (IPBS) produced radio and television spots about each winner, as part of a partnership with the Indiana Authors Awards. Watch the television spots below. Designed by Indiana Humanities with support from Glick Philanthropies, the Indiana Authors Awards are issued every other year. In between award years, starting in 2021, honorees will have the opportunity to participate in a statewide tour with support from IPBS member stations to connect readers, teachers, and students. Chosen from among 35 shortlisted works in eight categories, the winning submissions were written by a diverse collection of authors who all have deep connections to Indiana. At turns whimsical and serious, funny and haunting, the winning works address pressing topics such as race and immigration, as well as addiction and family drama.
In WIPB-TV’s effort to serve its neighbors and support local students, teachers, and schools impacted by the pandemic in its 22-county viewing area, the station is expanding its At-Home Learning Service to include televised lessons.
The pilot program, “WIPB Classroom,” will launch in Jay County and focus on grades K-3, offering remediation and enrichment in preparation for the start of the school year.
“Our goal is to support teachers and help students combat learning loss that is experienced during the Summer — and especially this year — because students have been away from the classroom for so long,” said Lori Georgi, WIPB director of content.
Jeremy Gulley, superintendent at Jay School Corporation, approached Georgi with the idea of broadcasting televised lessons. Jay teachers will provide the lessons for the pilot program.
“We are very pleased and proud to partner with WIPB to support families and students with their learning over the summer,” Gulley said. “We have to look to new and innovative partnerships utilizing community resources, and public broadcasting is an important piece of that.”
While most of the nation is moving to virtual learning, Gulley said for his school district, online learning can be problematic.
“In rural areas, internet can be spotty,” he said. “Those who don’t have access to reliable broadband have to be supported. When we prepare lessons for television, it can cross any platform — giving teachers the opportunity to experiment with producing curricula that can cross through digital streams.”
The pilot lessons will focus heavily on literacy with instruction that will align with Indiana standards and is appropriate for all K-3 students, regardless of which school district they attend.
Georgi said “WIPB Classroom” was a perfect fit with the PBS mission. It will air on WIPB 49.1, which is available on cable and satellite systems and free over-the-air antennas.
Public television, which started life as “educational television” in the 1950s, is now providing emergency at-home learning services to assist students, families, teachers, administrators and school systems across Indiana now closed in response to COVID-19. The state’s eight public television stations, including PBS Fort Wayne, are partnering with the Indiana Department of Education to offer at-home learning experiences for students in grades K-12 that align with Indiana curriculum standards. This crisis response builds on years of public television’s success in education. PBS reaches 66% of all children 2-8 years old, and, because PBS is a free over-the-air service, PBS is America’s largest classroom. PBS stations reach more preschool-aged children and children in low-income homes than any kids TV network.
Public TV stations that are integrating datacasting and next generation television capabilities are taking giant leaps forward. Datacasting turns a portion of public TV broadcast spectrum into a new secure wireless data network. Next generation television changes the way digital broadcasts are created and delivered by adding internet-based content to form a flexible and expandable platform for TV viewing. Datacasting and next generation television go where broadband does not reach. Next generation television enables enhanced picture quality and sound plus interactivity for new kinds of programming and data services. Recent advances in LoRaWAN technology create a potential return path solution for datacasting that enables it to be two-way.