In The Beginning...

Forty years ago, the Midwest Program on Airborne Television Instruction (MPATI) began broadcasting instructional TV programs to schools in a six-state region. Based at Purdue University, MPATI was a unique and pioneering effort in the field of distance learning. From 1961-68, hundreds of Ohio school classrooms received the broadcasts from a DC-6 aircraft, now fondly remembered as the "Satellite of the Sixties."

Airborne offerings included a wide curriculum for both elementary and high school students. These courses, outlined by the airborne teachers, included a lesson guide for those teachers who planned to participate. The lessons attempted to correlate objectives with Midwestern school practices and requirements. Along with printed information, teachers were also offered an afternoon each week to receive special professional materials by broadcast which provided the latest information, techniques, trends and ideas to use in conjunction with these resources. Workshops were also offered during the summer to extend professional development.

To become an airborne teacher, you had to submit a biography and an audition film. These were reviewed by a 22-member TV Teacher Preliminary Screening Panel. Teachers were selected on the basis of teaching ability, ability to make effective use of television for teaching, and competence in their subject-matter field.

The teachers that were selected attended a 10-week workshop at Purdue the summer of 1960. These new airborne teachers began preparing their courses, developing the tapes that would be seen across the Midwest in participating classrooms that fall. Each of these teachers had previous classroom teaching experience and nearly all had several years of teaching by television.