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.
Additionally, in response to the current COVID-19 pandemic, CSL is seeking submissions that feature ways practitioners from in-school and out-of-school settings are working together to provide high-quality STEM learning experiences for students through distance learning. We anticipate articles will be combinations of shorter pieces submitted by multiple authors, and publish in the last part of this issue in mid-June. Interested in submitting content? Submissions must be received at the latest by May 22 to be considered. Interested in supporting the peer review process to make this timeline possible? Contact me at bmurphy[at]nsta[dot]org with your ideas or to volunteer your time.
Beth Murphy, PhD (email@example.com) is field editor for Connected Science Learning and an independent STEM education consultant with expertise in fostering collaboration between organizations and schools, providing professional learning experiences for educators, and implementing program evaluation that supports practitioners to do their best work.
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