When Maryland’s General Assembly established noncommercial broadcasting, it designated one-third of the programming time to the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) to form a Division of Instructional Television, later known as ITV and then MITV. ITV produced programs for local school broadcasts on topics such as the environment (My Place in Space), literature (Book, Look and Listen), and water safety (Aboat and Afloat) and provided resources for educators, such as teacher in-service training on African-American history and culture (Afro-American Perspectives). By the end of the 70s, ITV had provided 56 series to more than 400,000 Maryland students, and by 1981, more than 40% of Maryland teachers were using ITV-provided instructional material.
In 1994, after MSDE budget cuts resulted in MITV’s discontinuation, MPT started its own full-service education unit. The Education Division, under the leadership of Vice President Gail Porter Long, created K-12 programming in collaboration with numerous partners and educators. Receiving tens of millions of dollars in grant money from federal institutions over the past 25 years has bolstered MPT’s commitment to remaining a powerhouse of educational programming. For example, in 2003, a $10 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education resulted in Thinkport, an online portal that houses interactive games, lesson plans, and educational activities aimed at educators, students, and parents. In 2018 alone, Thinkporthad logged 5.3 million page views in 1.4 million visitor sessions, and the site continues to thrive today.
Older students were not left out of the picture by any means. From the 1970s through the early ‘90s, the network offered college-credit broadcasts through its Maryland College of theAir (COA) Consortium with hundreds of programs such as Fundamentals of Biology, From Socrates to Sartre: Introduction to Philosophy, and Of Earth & Man.