Digital Programing in Informal Science Learning Settings: Current Trends and Practices
WCS launched its electronic field trip program, Distance Learning Expeditions, in 2001 when there
was tremendous interest in the educational community in the potential of videoconferencing
technology for program delivery, as well as money available for the purchase of related broadcast
equipment. The program grew rapidly and was successful through 2009 -- serving 9,600 students
in 2006-07, its largest year. From 2010 to 2014, with school budget cuts, high equipment
maintenance costs, and shifts in staffing, participation in the program declined. In 2010, WCS
secured a grant from IMLS for the purpose of rethinking its Distance Learning (DL) program.
No-cost extensions allowed for further assessment of changes in the DL landscape in light of new
technology, more varied Digital Programing (DP) and, as the proposal stated, “to create new
programing that is necessary to stay current, maintain existing audiences, and build new ones."
PEER Associates, an external evaluation company, was hired to assist with the associated
research and evaluation of existing and potential Distance Learning (DL) and Digital Programing
(DP) opportunities and practices.
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