A Quick Look at the Beginnings of Online Education

#elearning #elearning history #Online Education #online education history

Erica Caramol

Online Education History

Believe it or not, e-learning first got its start back in the 1960s at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne, where students and teachers were able to interact with each other, and teachers were able to track their students’ progress throughout the term. Of course, back then, not everyone had access to a computer; why would you want to, since the average computer took up enough space to squeeze you out of your living room, and then some!

In the 70s and 80s, as computers became smaller and more accessible, schools began to utilize electronically assisted learning techniques. Online education, however, didn’t truly come into its own until the 1990s, when schools like the University of Phoenix started offering full academic degree programs online. Phoenix was one of the first schools to pioneer distance learning, with thousands of students completing coursework online, and earning degrees without ever having to step foot in a classroom.


Today, online learning and training is gradually gaining a reputation as a legitimate alternative to traditional classroom learning. Schools from kindergarten all the way through grade 12 are giving students the opportunity to learn in a “virtual” classroom, providing more engagement to the students, and less of the boring down time that hinders them in a traditional classroom. Getting kids used to online learning at a young age prepares them for a higher learning experience in which they will more than likely earn some, if not all of their credits in an electronic learning setting. As a matter of fact, more than 6.1 million students took at least one online course in 2010. Other benefits include ease of access to materials, and more affordable degree programs than those offered in the traditional academic setting.

Let’s not forget that the e-learning phenomenon has proved invaluable in the workplace as well. Before learning and training went electronic, companies spent fortunes on training seminars and travel costs to get employees up to speed on the latest information they needed to do their jobs. Now, all that’s needed is a high-speed Internet connection, and employees can get their training without having to endure boring seminars and time away from their desks.

As technology continues to evolve, e-learning becomes a win-win for anyone who needs on-the-job training, mature students who want to go back to school, but are struggling to make ends meet, and younger students who need to be prepared to compete in a global workforce. No matter what your needs, e-learning meets them.

Now is not the time to fear technology; now is the time to learn from it!

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