While the private and public sector weigh the most viable options to innovate and restore the American economy, no potential path holds more promise to the next generation of America’s workforce than the STEM fields of study: Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

Improving access

Up until recently however, education in these realms has been limited to students with access to the facilities that house the cutting-edge equipment necessary for experimentation. But with advancements in online learning tools and their integration with real-world resources, these barriers are beginning to fall.  “

"Online education can uplift the ability of faculty in any school to provide discussions with experts, virtual field trips to review the impact of STEM outcomes, and provide many experiences that could not be obtained otherwise.”

According to Frank Mayadas, Senior Advisor to the Alfred P Sloan Foundation and Founding President of the Sloan Consortium (Sloan-C), “Advanced chemistry instrumentation for instance costs many millions of dollars, and cannot be afforded by many schools and colleges."

It is now being demonstrated by several institutions that access to high-priced laboratory equipment located remotely, can now be provided over the internet. Schools such as Northwestern, W. Washington University, Thompson Rivers University (in Canada) and MIT have shown this. These are not simulations of laboratories, but access to real instrumentation, greatly leveling the playing field for all.”

Opening the door

Now that the potential to introduce a much larger scope of the next generation to the STEM fields has been unlocked, the focus shifts to taking advantage of this opportunity.

In addition to emphasizing the importance of training teachers to inspire, retain, and guide students’ exploration of the STEM fields through online education opportunities, Dr. John R. Bourne, Provost of American Sentinel University, wants to make sure that the potentially game-changing applications of online learning are not overlooked: “Online education can uplift the ability of faculty in any school to provide discussions with experts, virtual field trips to review the impact of STEM outcomes, and provide many experiences that could not be obtained otherwise.”