At the 2019 OLC Innovate conference in Denver last month, I was excited to meet a number of OLC members who shared their passion for online and digital STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education. Attendance at an on-site OLC-sponsored STEM focus group was literally standing room only, with participants being very clear on the need for OLC to take a leadership role in promoting, developing and researching methods to more effectively teach science online. According to the discussions at this focus group, OLC can best serve this need by helping to break barriers, expand opportunities, and build communities of practice in online science education. The OLC community made it clear that there is a need to build on the established practices associated with teaching online to more effectively address the special needs of teaching science online.
In order to address this need, we have come up with a few ideas to get started and invite you to help us as we focus more in this area.
- OLC will be putting out a call for volunteers to serve on a STEM advisory group. The advisory group will help develop the strategies necessary for OLC to more effectively promote online STEM education.
- Already in the planning stages are opportunities for more conference sessions and webinars, including a STEM Summit, to occur at the OLC Accelerate 2019 conference, and an expanded opportunity for STEM-related webinars, such as the Citizen Science webinar on May 28th.
- We will be recruiting volunteers to serve as STEM track reviewers and assistant editors for OLC’s Online Learning Journal. The Journal is actively seeking quality research-based submissions that address issues related to online STEM education.
- We are also well on our way to receiving sufficient sponsorship funding to conduct a national survey on the State of Online Science Education in America, which will help us to better understand the needs of individuals and institutions. This is an exciting initiative, and OLC and its members have a unique opportunity to make a significant impact in the area of online STEM education.
OLC is well positioned to be a leader in this space and we look forward to engaging with you and the OLC community on these initiatives. Watch future editions of OLC Today for more details and a call for volunteers and participants in the near future.