Distance Learning: 1892 through 2012

Think distance learning is a recent phenomenon? If so, you’ll want to examine a recent Forbes article that traces distance learning in America back to 1892. This is especially true if you have friends and family who say distance education is a fad, it’s too new, it’ll never last.  (In Europe, I seem to recall, it may have started even earlier with correspondence courses to learn shorthand…)

At the college level in the U.S., Forbes identifies the source of the first distance learning program at the University of Chicago. But read on, and the article follows the development of distance education over the radio starting in 1921 and television in 1963. After that? Well, you know. Online! Interesting, too, isn’t it, that today online we can get mail, radio and television, but I digress…

Unfortunately, Forbes doesn’t say how many students were served as distance learning evolved through its mail, radio and television phases. That would be interesting to know. But the piece does note that as of 2010, more than 6 million students in the U.S. were taking at least one online course, which is a stat supported by the Babson Research Survey Group.

You can access the Forbes article entitled Distance Learning Has Been Around Since 1892, You Big MOOC, at this link.