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Think E-Learning Is Bad? It’s Better Than Remote Learning in 1937–Via Radio!

Safe to say that no one loves e-learning right now. Disagreements abound about how to do it, but I feel a vast majority of people want to see kids back in classrooms. However, it’s nice to know that it could be, and has been, much worse!

Back in 1937, there was a Polio outbreak crippling the country. Much like previous and subsequent pandemics, it disrupted school for children. As this short-and-sweet article in the Sun-Times a few months ago explains, there was a newly-popular mode of communication in the late ’30s called radio!

Education experts came up with “on-air” lessons, and kids sat at makeshift desks around the radio with pencils and paper at the ready . Radio stations donated the time and newspapers printed the schedules. It was quite the collaborative efforts across many fields to get the job done — not unlike today!

Sure, I’m sure parents hated it, just like today, but they got it done! (The big difference being a lack of social media which means there was no way really voice their displeasure and spread misinformation…which is a good thing…but I digress.)

As the author of the Sun-Time commentary points out, there was a big flaw in radio learning just like there is a flaw in today’s e-learning: accessibility. Not everyone had radios. Not everyone has a computer/reliable internet access.

A lot of the same challenges remain today that appeared in 1937, but it’s good to know that today’s technology is making things better.

Not perfect…but better.


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