History of K-12 Online Learning
The infographic about History of Distance for Learning, inserted in this topic, is very informative (I came across it some time ago). The reality in Portugal is quite different from USA, Australia New Zealand and other extensive territories that felt the need to spread distance learningin earlyer times.
Portugal remained an underdeveloped country with a dictatorship that lasted 48 years till 1974. Since then great changes occurred globally and in education as well.
In spite of the terrible times we are facing with the plague of IMF and the famous «troika» making us paying scandalous taxes to borrow money to pay the national debt owing to casino economy, the fact is that families put tremendous efforts to provide HE to their children, still believing (in spite of high youth unemployment) that education is important.
In Portugal there are very dated and limited experiences in primary and secondary education regarding distance education through media.
Historically, the most relevant initiative through TV, started in 1965, provided by portuguese national TV. Extention of compulsory school to 6 years (up till then compulsory school was reduced to 4 years= primary school) and the fact that there were no teachers to cover the territory, led to this solution to provide schooling to isolated rural areas or schools that were overcrowded in metropolitan areas.
In the RTP website (portuguese national TV) we can find this valuable historical archive:
In the 70’s compulsory schooling was again extended and the TV system was maintained.
In the 80’s TV school started gradually to be abandoned, replaced by videotape.
In the 90’s, the school system generally and progressively introduced ICT and Internet. An important national project (Minerva) had started in 1985 (till 1994) to introduce and train teachers to the pedagogical use of new information technologies, followed by other national programme (Nonio 21st Century) started in late 1996 (till 2005) and many initiatives and projects more recently carried out, in the framework of european education and ICT policies and initiatives.
The last schools that inherited the TVschool/videotape approach closed in 2003, when they were finally extinguished by law.
An example of a production of 1992 for the discipline of History of Portugal
Table summary of the 3 generations of Distance Education – http://medwiki.wikispaces.com/Quadro-Resumo+das+3+Gera%C3%A7%C3%B5es
At present, there’s an online learning system (Mobile School) for a small target group of pupils, whose families have itinerant professions (circus, marketers…). «Mobile school curriculum» was ruled in 2009- http://area.dgidc.min-edu.pt/escola_movel_en/escola.html.
Pupils with chronic diseases may use videoconference systems either at home or in hospital. There are hospital schools with teachers working with videoconference systems and the kids in recovery at home may use also such means that need to be negotiated with the respective school where the pupil is enrolled.
Although most schools have installed Moodle, they use it mostly as website or information/resources sharing platform among teachers, it’s not working as a blended learning system for pupils.
I would like that face-to-face learning had a mirror in online learning and that pupils might have both ways, simultaneously. I think that the pedagogical methods should change radically, to less content transfer in classrooms and more active and collaborative work, project-based, inquiry-based, experimental learning. Learning that would not be imposed but challenging and exciting.