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From TV to online: The evolution of remote learning at UH

The University began its journey of remote education in 1953 through its television station, KUHT. | Juana Garcia/The Cougar

The University began its journey of remote education in 1953 through its television station, KUHT. | Juana Garcia/The Cougar

When the coronavirus pandemic became widespread across the nation, the University made the decision to enforce remote learning by having all classes proceed online, continuing the distance education efforts that began at UH in 1953.

The University has been a leader in distance learning since KUHT, the University’s television station, became the first educational television station in the United States in the 1950s, according to UH’s Online and Special Programs’ mission statement.

From there, the University has continued to offer online classes and courses at off-campus instructional sites.

In KUHT’s early days, University professors would record classes and then broadcast them for public learning. Some of these classes included biology, poetry and philosophy. The station made educational content intended for primary education as well.

KUHT also collaborated with (Houston Independent School District) to create educational programming for K-12 education like dance and art,” said Audiovisual Archivist for UH Libraries Emily Vinson in an email.It was all based on a really lovely vision of making education more accessible.”

Additionally, during these times KUHT made specialty content about specific topics for educational purposes. Doctors in Space was a video made in 1956 teaching about safety equipment involving pilots and astronauts. People Are Taught to Be Different was a video from 1958 about different personalities in different cultures. 

“These weren’t exactly for grades, like some of the other examples, but were meant for the education of the general public,” Vinson said. “You have to remember that PBS wasn’t created until late 1970, so all other television was commercial. I think these are some of the best examples of educational television.”

In the present day, distant learning is more apparent in online courses. The University has academic tips themed around study habits, time management and communication in an effort to help students achieve success in online classes. 

Under regular conditions, the University has four undergraduate degrees that students can completely complete remotely. These degrees are psychology ,nursing and retailing and consumer sciences, and are all intended for students who have previously completed at least two years of college.

As far as graduate programs go, there are 27 different programs University students can complete fully online. These programs fall under the categories of business and management, health and social care, engineering and trades and education.

In light of the coronavirus, the University has employed Blackboard and Courseware (CASA) as methods to provide students with educational resources. Both these platforms are accessible through smartphones as well as computers.

For more of The Cougar’s coronavirus coverage, click here.

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