Thursday, August 13, 2020

Remote Learning

School is starting back in my hometown this week. For years now, they have been starting in mid-August, a change from when I was in school myself. In my day, school started after Labor Day in September, sometimes a week before. 

I am glad not have to worry about kids in school or teaching. I cannot imagine how I would be handling it. My cousin lives next door and her son is going back to high school this week. In my town, kids are picking up schedules, books and other supplies, including school-provided Chromebooks. They have to use those provided by the schools, not one of their own.

Or as I've said before, how it would have been handled when I was in school myself, having grown up in the pre-Internet world. But even though there was no Internet, there was a form of distance learning that existed then. 

After hearing about how kids today have to learn remotely, I got to thinking about those things known as telecourses. Many of these existed beginning in the early 70s, though they were mostly for community colleges. Such programs often aired on PBS stations (I remember seeing those on the PBS stations in San Francisco and its neighboring cities). The community college I attended didn't offer telecourses until the mid-1990s. As much as I would have liked to have done one they had on poetry, I was unable to do so. Accessing the videos at the campus media center would have been hard because my transportation was limited then. And even though my house had cable then, our VCR wouldn't tape some channels. The telecourses were carried over the local public channel (which also carried the city council mettings). The poetry class was based on the PBS series Voices & Visions

I got wondering if telecourses were still a thing, what with online learning now the most popular form of distance learning. Such things would certainly come in handy under the current circumstances. Though people do watch videos online, so telecourses could still work today.

I have tried Zoom for the writers lab I have been going to, but it isn't quite to my liking. I'm not sure how I would be handling going to school this way now. When I finished college in the late 1990s, the Internet was just coming into vogue and online classes had not yet been developed, but television classes were still a thing then. I don't know how popular they were up to that point, though.

And recently this cartoon has been going around on Facebook:

Jane is watching an workout video, something that was popular in the 1980s before the Internet. And I can recall several yoga shows airing on PBS around that same time. So remote learning and instruction has been around quite a long time now.

And on a side note, my telepsychiatry sesssions have been even more remote, with the psychiatrist calling me at home. I have had two such appointments (With another scheduled next month) since the shelter-in-place began in March, my first one occuring the very week of the shutdown. I have not had to visit any other doctors since lockdown began.

If I had to deal with distance learning right now, I would adjust as necessary. 


  1. Now if only my meals could come out of a machine on a plate steaming hot like Jane could do on the Jetsons. :-)
    I remember those shows on PBS. I am thankful I don't have children to deal with this issue. I think it's going to be difficult for those working at home and schooling from home. My niece is a teacher. She saw the father walk behind the kid in his underwear for heaven's sake! Babies in the back ground screaming. She says the kids don't have a safe separate place to do their school work and it's a hot mess. (she teaches 4th grade) Again I am just thankfuly for nothing small children right now.

  2. I suspect that remote learning will suit some much better than others.
    And hope that we can all adapt/adjust to our changing times.

  3. You're right, we adjust and do what we have to do.