History of Online Education

By Brenda on November 28th, 2011


The world wide web was developed in 1991 for the masses. Few knew the impact the internet would have on society, including education. The internet has changed the entire framework in which education is delivered for learners of all ages from elementary to post-secondary. So how and when was distance education developed as a viable platform? Below we take a look at the history of online learning.

The history of distance education actually goes back much further than the creation of the internet. The first online classroom was actually developed in the 1960’s by a team of University of Illinois professors who utilized linked computer terminals. The students could actually access the information while they were listening to the professor lecture.

This first “online classroom” was really more of a hybrid learning environment, but was a clear sign of the things to come in the educational world. The professors were certainly ahead of their time.

Online learning started to move from its nascent form into its current model during the 1980’s. Universities began to take advantage of the technology developed by the University of Illinois professors. Major corporations also capitalized on the technology by offering their training programs via the web.

Correspondence schools were the norm for distance education. Students would register for the courses and the school would supply the learning material to the student by shipping it to them in the mail. Then once the student was done, they would mail the materials back to the teacher for grading.

The first completely online school was the University of Phoenix, which hit the educational scene in 1989. The school was not accredited for the first few years of existence, but received accreditation a few years later. Now there are literally dozens and dozens of online schools as well as traditional brick and mortar schools that offer online courses.

Online post secondary programs are offered at all levels from certificate to doctorate. Online learning and institutions found it difficult to earn the respect of traditional schools and educational professionals. Students were also wary of registering for online courses because of the reputation of online courses as well as a number of fraudulent institutions offering bogus degrees.

Since then, online learning has become a well respected learning platform offered by the world’s most elite colleges and universities. Today, online learning has firmly entrenched itself in the educational landscape, and is preferred by the majority of working adults.



Category: Online Degrees