NetDragon and the Smithsonian Institution have unveiled Learning for a Small World, the first Star Trek online learning platform. Putting a fresh spin on adult lifelong learning, the new, interactive, community-based learning platform will launch with “Star Trek: Inspiring Culture and Technology,” a six-week program that celebrates at Star Trek’s cultural and technological impact.
“Star Trek: Inspiring Culture and Technology” shines a light on the social issues and futuristic technology issues that remain top of mind today, among them runaway artificial intelligence, eugenics, discrimination and racial tensions, and even examinations of the nature of perception and what it means to be human. The course takes a deep look at how the show, and its fans, both reflected the times and foreshadowed scientific achievements we take for granted and the cultural challenges we face today.
Dr. Margaret Weitekamp, a curator at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, and Scott Mantz, formerly of Access Hollywood, are co-teaching the online course. It features artifacts on display in Washington DC, behind-the-scenes looks at Smithsonian collections, and a range of experts from the Smithsonian Institution, academia, and the scientific community.
“This online course offers a great way to experience the National Air and Space Museum’s approach to artifacts and history from the comfort of your own home,” said Weitekamp. “It’s a wonderful example of the Smithsonian Institution’s commitment to reaching beyond the walls of our museums to educate and inspire.”
Dejian Liu, founder of NetDragon and chairman of the board, makes an appearance in the course describing the impact Star Trek had on him personally, inspiring him to have a successful career in technology. As living, dramatic evidence of the impact Star Trek can have, part of the NetDragon headquarters in China’s Fujian Province was built as a life-size replica of the Starship Enterprise.
LearningforaSmallWorld.com will deliver learning experiences in a non-traditional manner. Courses will allow users to experience learning variety of ways, from video and audio to text and live interviews: learning on demand, any time, any place. Later this fall, Learning for a Small World will offer additional courses that will tackle difficult subjects, such as fake news, genomics, and the phenomenon of eSports.