For this week’s Reading Nostalgia, we are going back to April 1998 to see how this piece of ‘groundbreaking’ technology shaped what we now call ‘normal life’.

A BBC report revealed how students at the Highdown School in Surley Row, were learning about a new method to communicate with teachers outside the regular hours of 9am to 3.15pm.

Students at the Reading establishment were some of the first in the country to connect with their teachers outside of school to ask questions about the homework they received.

The email addresses each student got were connected to the town’s library and museum, along with the school’s network.

This meant that those who attended Highdown could learn more about specific subjects in their own time, while also contacting their teachers for help.

A distinctive method for its time, the school was chosen to be one of the few to pilot this experiment by the Government.

One of the students told the BBC report back in 1998: “It allows me to do my schoolwork from home and if necessary, I can contact my teacher for help.”

Another added: “As well as giving you the extra information, it is a fun way of learning.

“There are many multimedia encyclopedias on there.”

Chris Smith MP, who was at the time Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, said: “This is very much the forefront of using new technology in order to create new learning opportunities for pupils.

“I hope we can see this in more schools in the next few years.”

And he would be right.

This was one of the first methods of online learning and even though footage from 24-and-a-half years ago of how websites looked seemed simple and plain, this paved the way for how online education is now taught.

Even for some back in 1998, the idea of communicating with teachers outside of the classroom for help seem incredibly alien and farfetched.

Fast forward to 2022, online learning in many parts of the country and world is part of the norm.

And with schools, colleges and universities all shutting for periods of time due to the coronavirus pandemic between 2020 and 2021, students’ bedrooms, spare rooms, living rooms, and kitchens became their study space.

The scheme pioneered online learning for the present day.