The world has been toying with remote learning for nearly three centuries. Correspondence courses began in the 1720s, a “Correspondence University” started in Ithaca, NY in 1883, and the first computer-based training program emerged in 1960 (learn more).
Most recently, we’ve had many great services appear, such as Khan Academy, that enable people of all ages to absorb knowledge and experience interactive learning through our (beloved) connection to the Internet.
What is special about the best remote learning resources of yesteryear and today is that they are not autonomous. They are teacher-driven and curated by experts. The role of the teacher in our societies has never been more crucial and should not be considered diminished in any way with the availability of online tools that are simply another way to deliver education.
With the exponential spread of SARS-CoV-2 beginning on November 17, 2019, many people around the world shifted to living in isolation as much as possible. Welcome to the new normal of social distancing. While we expect this behavior to be temporary, what is so interesting from the perspective of e-learning, is that many teachers and students from traditional classrooms figured out how to do it quickly—literally over the weekend.
Now, with my kids and even my Cub Scout Pack interacting exclusively online with friends, teachers, and leaders, we are doing our level best to make sure they will thrive in this modern educational environment. Who knows—maybe our school districts and teachers will take a liking to the potentials for new learning efficiencies and reduced costs and shift more of our formal education to this type of online collaborative effort.
Years ago, here on Dynamic Patterns Research, I began curating a range of online learning resources for informal science education and doing citizen science. These links and commentaries are covered in quite a bit of digital dust, so I’m now refreshing the resources to support my family’s learning experiences and anyone else who is interested.
The updated STEM edu section will be a work in progress for the coming weeks, so to get started, check out the new live cams to help you discover more of your natural world from your new quarantined existence.