Part II: The History of Distance Learning
by Logan Smith
In Part I we talked about the concept of distance learning, from its humble beginning in 1728 and walked through the progress up until 1953, when distance learning courses became televised. By the late 1950s, seventeen programs used a television to help transmit their courses and a network was formed. The “National Educational Television Network (NET) had over 53 stations affiliated with them by 1961.
1962 Researcher Douglas Engelbart published an article proposing the use of computers to help augment training and education. He soon began developing such a system and called it the “Online System” (NLS). This early computer was introduced in 1968.
1963 The first instructional computer was installed at Orange Coast College in California. The program was funded by the Federal Government under the Educational Professions Development Act. The program was intended to train the first 100 teachers on the national curriculum for data processing.
1964 through 1968, the “Articulated Instructional Media Project” (AIM) was funded by the Carnegie Foundation. Project AIM proposed using a variety of communications technologies to instruct their off-campus students.
1965 IBM introduces COURSEWRITER for the IBM 1500. This was an online interactive system that included course management features and roles for each user.
1970 A new computer system was developed in London, called the “Havering Computer Managed Learning System.” The system’s applications included science, technology, remedial math and a few more. In just 10 short years the system had been used over 10,000 students and 100 teachers.
1970 Computers were first used in elementary schools in Canada.
1973 The United Kingdom set up the National Development Program in Computer Assisted Learning in January of 1973.
1984 University of California, San Diego, created “The Intercultural Learning Network” which linked schools in Japan, Isreal, Mexico, California and Alaska in the first online Learning Circle. This program was funded by Apple’s “wheels for the mind” grant.
1992 Phillips Interactive Media and Paramont Pictures create the first full-motion movies on CD.
1995 University of Wolverhampton develops of the first e-Learning environments in the United Kingdom with the Wolverhampton Online Learning Framework (WOLF)
1996 Jones International University is launched and becomes the first accredited fully web-based university.
From this point on, the technology is now available to us, but is constantly evolving and getting better. Distance learning creates a respectable reputation for itself and learning management systems (LMSs) become very common. While it may seem we’re at the end of the history of distance learning, this is only just the beginning. Learning Management Systems continue to develop and broaden their purpose.