KLRN’s Virtual Classroom Engages Families Beyond Broadcast
What started as a conversation with an active station Twitter follower -- who also happened to be a homeschooling mom -- has emerged as an innovative way for KLRN to deepen its engagement with local kids, parents and educators in San Antonio, and to expand the station’s education services to a broader audience.
Leveraging ITVS’ OVEE streaming platform, KLRN has created a Virtual Classroom, which allows users to log on (anonymously or with usernames), watch PBS programming, and contribute to an online community around the PBS content they view via the platform’s interactive interface. Users can chat, ask questions, post emoticons and more, in a live feed that appears next to the streaming video content.
With funding from the Knight Foundation, KLRN’s Virtual Classroom launched in April 2015, and has to date featured episodes of NOVA and NATURE every Wednesday (in line with PBS’ Think Wednesday positioning), as the focus for science, nature and environmental education-themed experiences. Since May, the Virtual Classroom has reached over 600 participants in 28 states, as well as some international users. The initial sessions proved so popular that the station added a repeat session each Wednesday, so users can join at either time. Each session averages between 50-60 logged-on users, but overall participation is most likely higher, as that doesn’t account for the families who log on together with one username.
Targeted at 4th-8th graders (and their families/educators), KLRN’s Virtual Classroom has been especially popular with homeschooling families. Other families are also participating, and KLRN sees the Virtual Classroom’s potential for leveraging primetime content to keep families engaged with PBS as their kids age out of PBS KIDS content. There is also strong potential to use the tool to strengthen relationships with like-minded community partners and nonprofits, including after-school programs.
Looking ahead, KLRN hopes to expand the current offering to include PBS KIDS content specifically – programs like WILD KRATTS seem particularly ripe for this kind of experience. The station also has wishlist items in terms of the kind of data they can access about existing users from the OVEE platform, so the station can tailor the experience even more meaningfully.
Check it out! https://ovee.itvs.org/screenings/