Distance learning is not something that came with computers and the world wide web. In fact, the man who is given credit for conducting the first distance learning classes probably couldn’t even have imagined such a thing.
His name was Sir Isaac Pitman and he set up the first correspondence courses in England. He used the postal service to send out information and received in back from the students in the same manner. Pitman is probably remembered most for his famous short hand that he invented.
The next major step in distance learning took place in the United States. Nothing was shipped through a postal service. The Chautauqua movement started in 1874. It was the teachers and speakers who traveled the distance to share their knowledge. Instead of mail lessons they would travel across the country teaching.
The London University was one of the forerunners of distance learning. In 1858 they offered a distance learning degree.
The next big step in the progression for distance learning were classes that were conducted and filmed and could be shown in remote locations or locations where these particular classes were not available.This was a way of bringing a form of distance learning into mainstream schools as well.
The introduction of television forever changed the way people communicate and entertain themselves. The first educational television station was launched from Houston, Texas. It happened in 1953. Not only were there educational programs, but classes where viewers were able to send in completed assignments. Sot it was a combination of old technology, postal service, with new technology, public education television.
With computers came a variety of opportunities. Sadly in the beginning there were very few accredited schools and plenty of scams. Many people lost money and maybe more importantly, trust.
Of course, overtime more accredited and reliable online courses have become available. As people have gotten more experience with the Internet they are able to spot a scam and find the distance education opportunities.
Another interesting development are public high school classes that are available online. Most states limit these to one or two credits per semester, but still it gives a student more flexibility with scheduling classes that are important to them.
There are now teachers who use webcams to teach students all over the world. Distance education has come a long way and still there are some great postal options available, for those who want to participate in distance education, old school.