Star Trek Teams With Smithsonian to Help Launch Online Learning Platform

Star Trek is helping to bring the learning experience into uncharted territory.

NetDragon Websoft Holdings Limited has debuted a new online platform, Learning for a Small World. The interactive, community-based learning platform will launch with “Star Trek: Inspiring Culture and Technology,” a six-week program designed by the Smithsonian Institute in coordination with CBS Consumer Products covering the cultural and technological impact of Star Trek. The course gives users a multimedia learning experience that will heighten their understanding of the Star Trek franchise’s global impact.

“NetDragon is committed to innovation in the field of online learning,” said Dr. Simon Leung, Net Dragon Vice Chairman and Executive Director, in a press release. “We believe Learning for a Small World fills an important niche in our learning product portfolio. Online learning communities are central to our strategy and form a core component of the new online learning platform.”

According to the release, “Star Trek: Inspiring Culture and Technology” will “explore the futuristic technology and social issues that remain top of mind today: 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.”

The course is taught by Dr. Margaret Weitekamp, a curator at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, and Scott Mantz, formerly of Access Hollywood. The learning experience is augmented by artifacts on display in Washington DC, behind-the-scenes looks at Smithsonian collections, and insights from experts from within 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.”

Mr. Dejian Liu, founder of Net Dragon and chairman of the board, also makes an appearance during the course to describe the impact Star Trek had on him personally, which he credits with helping to inspire him to a career in technology. That inspiration left such an impact that part of the Net Dragon headquarters in China’s Fujian Province was built as a life-size replica of the Starship Enterprise.

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This is just the beginning for the Learning for a Small World platform. The service plans to deliver learning experiences in “a non-traditional manner” with courses allowing users to experience learning in a variety of ways, including video and audio, text and live interviews. Future courses launching later this fall will cover topics like “fake news,” genomics, and the rise of eSports.

Interested in taking the Star Trek online course? Let us know what you think in the comments!