Former student creates online distance education museum

UNIVERSITY PARK, PA – A virtual museum created by a graduate of the Penn State College of Education will be presented as part of the 75th anniversary of the International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE). The International Museum of Distance Education and Technology was established by Will Diehl and supported by College of Education faculty members Michael G. Moore, Melody Thompson and Fred Schied.

“Distance education did not start with the advent of the World Wide Web, online education or MOOCs (open and massive online courses),” Diehl said. “The postage stamp has allowed people to correspond for a reasonable price and distance education has started to open up learning opportunities to people all over the world who previously did not have access to such opportunities.”

According to Diehl, the aim of the museum is to preserve the work of former educators from a distance. In addition, it would serve as a resource for contemporary distance educators.

“There are many historical documents on correspondence education from the last century that are in danger of being destroyed or have unfortunately already been destroyed,” Diehl said. “Or maybe these materials are packaged in warehouses in libraries.”

Currently the museum exists as website and on Second life, an online virtual world.

“I have worked on collecting and digitizing historical documents to make them available to distance educators around the world,” said Diehl.

Moore, in addition to being part of Diehl’s inspiration in creating the museum, also contributed materials to the effort.

“Dr. Moore has been particularly generous in providing advice and contributing to historical documents, which I have since digitized and continue to add to the site,” said Diehl. “He inspired my interest in the developments in the field of open and distance learning The museum project will hopefully continue to inspire others in the field.

According to Diehl, Schied and Thompson also supported Diehl while he worked on the creation of the museum.

“Fred Schied provided me with an opportunity and a lot of advice to conduct historical research in the field of adult education,” said Diehl. “He stressed the importance of understanding the history of the field of adult education and he was certainly an inspiration in my thinking about how I might integrate the work of former adult educators into a contemporary forum. .

“Melody Thompson’s work in historical distance education research has been invaluable to the field, and she has also been a source of inspiration,” said Diehl. “Thompson is a specialist in historical methodology and a distance educator. She also provided valuable advice and guidance during my own historical research on Charles A. Wedemeyer and the evolution of open and distance learning.

To his knowledge, the museum is the most extensive and dynamic historical chronology of distance education in the world, said Diehl. He plans to add more material to the museum site in the coming year.

“After almost seven years, I know that I am only at the beginning of the evolution of this organization,” said Diehl. “I imagine a community of educators and students who will benefit from the resources provided by the museum as well as the collaborations resulting from participation in the community.


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