Virtual STEM can be defined in various ways – some educators define it as broadly as an online recording of any STEM-based topic, while others are more specific, saying virtual field trips or activities are required for it to be virtual STEM. Regardless, the most important qualification for virtual STEM is an authentic learning experience for students with some kind of real science, engineering, math, or technology practice built into it.
With virtual STEM, students need some kind of interactivity, whether they are interacting with each other, the teacher, or some kind of technology or software. This interactivity component is important so learning is tied to a real world application rather than it just being an abstract concept.
Just like most things, virtual STEM comes with its challenges, especially this past year as teachers quickly had to figure out the best way to communicate with their students, how to run their classrooms, and how to keep students on task. However, the many upsides to virtual STEM highlight its staying power, even as students and teachers move back into the classroom.