British Pathé offers a glimpse of distance education history

The ‘open’ movement has produced some wonderful outcomes, and they keep coming. I don’t just mean the ever-burgeoning number of free online courses (MOOC or non-MOOC), books, and articles. There are now millions of copyright-free images available, with the recently added contribution from Getty Images as well as those downloadable from such sites as Flickr (especially via PhotoPin). Film and television programmes have joined in the fray, and that is what has prompted this post.

British Pathé has recently made tens of thousands of examples of historical news footage available through YouTube, as I’ve just discovered courtesy of Open Culture. All those famous historical moments are there: the Hindenburg disaster; the Wright brothers; the funeral of Queen Victoria; footage of the Titanic; the amazing Tacoma bridge collapse; and the abdication of Edward VIII. But what else? I’m sure you’ll have your favourites to browse, and I decided to check on topics associated with distance education.

The best I’ve found so far is associated with Australia, a news item from 1962 about our famous School of the Air. If you have any knowledge of the history of our field, you’ll have at least heard of it – teaching isolated outback children through the use of radio. Have a look, it’s only a few minutes.

Another title which caught my eye was ‘Classroom in the Clouds’. Though not exactly distance education, it was a serendipitous discovery, as it is a 1941 news item about the RAAF training base here near Melbourne at Point Cook. I know it very well, having visited it many times with my grandson Alex – it now includes a fascinating museum, as well as continuing its role with the RAAF.

It’s another nice piece – basically about the airborne training of radio operators. This one’s even shorter, just over a minute:

So, have a browse, who knows what you might discover?



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