In late May of this year I received a letter from long time friend, Sergei, in Ekaterinburg, Russia. He and his daughter are no strangers to my students. We have been sending text, graphics and voices as e-mail for over two years. Sergei has a wish... and these pages will see the unfolding reality.
Here is part of the letter that I received from him:
May 31, 95 09:58:04 am -0500
... And there came another thought... Is it possible to try to arrange an experimental distance learning course via Internet? Olya mastered necessary skills to establish connections and to communicate with distant sites and people. Now it would be most interesting and useful to develop the skills and to apply them to really important things - such as courses of distance education. I thought of you immediately though initially the idea has been worked out by other people and maybe it would seem natural to ask them first. However, I strongly believe that since Olya knows you and you know her during rather long period of time it would be better to ask you first whether your school staff would like to support such an experiment. The educational material may be delivered by means of both Internet (e-mail, ftp) and regular mail if necessary. And various examinations may be passed by means of on-line connections and sometimes by phone calls. Eventually in order to pass some final year examinations it will be probably good to send her to you so that you and other school teachers could see the results. It seems also possible to send some of your teachers to Ekaterinburg if funds will be available, say, in the middle of the school year or in the end if Olya won't be able to come herself due to unexpected problems if somebody wishes.
Your position as a computer and telecommunications specialist would be most wonderful and useful in this case. We already tested our opportunities to exchange sound data and graphics data and nowwhen we can establish real-time on-line connections the experiment seems really possible. I think that my own position as a postmaster of a host having direct access to Internet and my other capabilities and links may guarantee ceasless support of the experiment on this Russian side. In case of success we could expand the experience to a wider circles of people, to publish materials and to develop the experiment further on. Of course everybody would like to have some rest during summer time but if we are going to make out this project then three months ahead are sufficient to prepare for it that is to discuss some details, to find interested people, to send materials and maybe to conduct preliminary tests.
Hope to hear from you soon, best wishes and cordial greetings to all the friends,
I have arranged for several students to join Olya as classmates in a virtual classroom where the course for the year will be Maryland's history. We will be following the book, Our Maryland by Jean Eagan and Jeanne McGinnis and published by Peregrine Smith Books.
Many thanks to John and Judith Seniura who sent a unit of study for Maryland History to 1776!
September 1997 - Olya visits Delmar!
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