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The effects and challenges of COVID-19 on the education system will forever change the way we approach learning, instruction, and curriculum. In March 2020, school districts scrambled to transition from in-person to fully remote or blended learning environments and have since transformed the educational world. The difficult navigation and balance of distance learning, digital learning, and the students’ and staffs’ health has greatly impacted the worldwide education marketplace. The effects of COVID-19 on the education sector will persist post-pandemic and influence the future of learning — at a minimum, it disrupted the education system and forced it to reimagine its practices to regain relevance and effectiveness. We must continue to redefine how we produce exciting, effective, and engaging online learning experiences that have a focus on developing critical thinking and problem-solving skills to prepare students for a successful future.

The disruptive move to online or blended learning is the catalyst to create a new, more effective method of schooling; blending both online and in-person methods to keep up with the increasingly technological world. It can be easy for students to disengage from virtual classrooms and lose interest in school subjects that once made them excited to go to school. The quick shift from hands-on activities and pencil-and-paper worksheets to online reading and digital assignments has been difficult for both students and teachers alike, and not only did education transition, but businesses have transitioned as well requiring the future generations to be proficient in digital technology.

However, learning and teaching do not have to be boring! The key to making learning enjoyable, whether in-person or virtually, is to implement interesting, real-world connections in the curriculum that relate to students’ everyday lives and prepares them for lifelong learning, and that is exactly what JASON Learning does for school districts all over the country.

Back in 1989 when Robert D. Ballard founded JASON Learning, JASON and the Argonauts were the mighty explorers that brought STEM education to life. His idea was to develop a K-12 learning program that would make STEM exciting for students through real-world applications, stories, and examples. Since that time, we continue to connect students with real people that help put in perspective the things they are learning in an innovative and stimulating way.

We use real and relevant role models including Shirley Murrilo, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientist who flies aircraft into Hurricanes to study hurricane wind data; National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Electrical Metrology Physicist, Darine Haddad who redefines international units of mass; Drew Pomeroy, the SVP of Strategic Sales of CityNet who works directly with data and broadband internet; and more! We want to help all students see themselves and their own bright possibilities reflected in the faces of those who inspire them.

There’s a reason you remember school material that was taught through stories and real-world examples. It’s because you remember things that relate to you and the world around you. The examples we use at JASON show how what’s being taught in the classroom (or on a computer screen) can be applied in life and brings the real world into the classroom. So whether you’re studying monster storms, measurements, or learning about how to triangulate for laying fiber — JASON makes STEM real, relevant, and engaging and helps students understand abstract concepts in a fun and exciting way.

Eleanor Smalley

Eleanor Smalley

President & CEO, JASON Learning