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The Evolution of Distance Learning

  • 1728 - "New Method of Shorthand"

    1728: Caleb Phillipps, teacher of the "New Method of Shorthand," runs an ad in the Boston Gazette: "Persons in the Country desirous to Learn this Art may by having the several Lessons sent weekly to them, be as perfectly instructed as those that live in Boston."
    Retrieved from Lauren Gensler, Forbes Magazine, Feb, 12, 2014, https://www.forbes.com/sites/laurengensler/2014/02/12/from-correspondence-classes-to-moocs-the-highlights-of-distance-learning-over-the-ages/#366080847690
  • Correspondence Education

    1858: University of London is the first institution of higher education to embrace correspondence courses, offering degrees worldwide to people who were not able to study full-time on campus. Charles Dickens calls it the "People's University." Over 100 years later Nelson Mandela studies law as a University of London student while imprisoned on Robben Island.(Gensler, 2014)
  • Radio, Television, and Development

    As time went on, technological advances played a pivotal role in distance education. The introduction of the radio allowed universities to broadcast information and courses to students. According to this infographic, in 1922, “Pennsylvania State College became the first college to broadcast courses across radio networks.Retrieved from Justin Ferriman, 300 years Of distance learning evolution, May 1, 2013 https://www.learndash.com/300-years-of-distance-learning-evolution-infographic/
  • Learning From Home

    These methods continued into the mid-century years. An article by Forbes notes that, in 1956, “Chicago public television station WTTW, in partnership with the local Board of Education, televises college courses for credit; over 15,000 students enroll in 5 years. New York University and CBS launch Sunrise Semester, which also offers TV courses for credit; in 1962 the New York Times runs an article congratulating a housewife for getting her bachelor’s degree from these TV courses” (Gensler, 2014)
  • Electronics Revolution in the 1980s

    The deregulation of the telecommunications industry allied to the speeding up of chips and the introduction of broadband technologies brought about this veritable revolution” (Keegan, D., Foundations of Distance Education, 2003,RoutledgeFalmer, 2003, New York, NY)
  • 1990's

    Distance learning had greatly developed by the 1990s through use of satellite virtual classrooms, mobile telephones, videoconferencing, and the Internet.
  • Today and Beyond

    The journey of distance learning continues into the 21st century. By 2006, “89% of 4-year public colleges in the U.S. offer classes online, along with 60% of private institutions” (Gensler, 2014).
  • MOOC

    Aside from credited courses, major universities are now offering “MOOC” or Massive Online Open Courses. Students can take these courses to learn more about certain topics, but they do not receive credit for these courses. Even cell phone applications, such as iTunes U, allow students to enroll in non-credit courses on the go!