"The History of Distance Learning"


Most people probably do not know this, but distance learning has actually been around for quite some time.  In the United States, the earliest recorded distance learning program was in 1728 when Caleb Phillips advertised a private correspondence courses in the Boston Gazette newspaper!

Fast forward to today, and we have one of the highest degrees of distance learning technology in use.  In fact, in Australia, almost one in four students (approximately 298,000 people) study off-campus. Obviously we have come a long way, mostly because of the latest advances in online learning technology.

The infographic below, shares some pretty interesting facts about distance learning. The most intriguing fact for me was that in that 1969, there was an Open University established in the U.K. using radio and TV to deliver classes. The reason I find this so fascinating is because of the recent emergence of MOOCs within education.  It appears that the concept was just ahead of its time back in 1969 as today’s technology finally makes true (massive) open-courses possible.

It is always interesting to see where we came from in the realm of distance learning. Most people think that the entire distance learning concept came about with the internet, but it is clear that it has existed well before we had the online social constructs of today.  When I see infographics such as this, I’m always curious to know what the history will look like 50 years from now as technology continues to advance.  Until that time, we can appreciate where we are today and where we have come from – both of which will shape our future.

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