The timing is accidental. When we decided that this issue of CSL would focus on connected science learning experiences that incorporate social media and technology, we had no idea that the COVID-19 pandemic was brewing. While many STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education programs and schools already use social media, videoconferencing, and other online platforms to provide rich STEM learning experiences, distance learning is new to many of us. Paraphrasing a colleague: Right now, we are building the car while driving it.
I work with a number of STEM education organizations that serve K–12 schools. Some are turning to virtual experiences as a temporary measure, with a plan to return to face-to-face experiences once the situation permits. Others are approaching today’s urgent need for remote learning with an eye toward enhancing face-to-face programming with virtual content and interactions in the future. However virtual learning fits into long-term strategy, these organizations are reaching out to connect with schools and teachers to plan and design effective approaches for using social media and other online technologies for distance learning.
NSTA is doing what it can to support teachers as well, such as offering free 30-day memberships, and publishing open-access online resources such as the “Daily Do” and more—all of this while dealing with the repercussions of cancelling its national conference just weeks before it was scheduled to take place. Most likely your school or organization is dealing with similar challenges.