The Evolution of Distance Learning – Infographic

Here’s a great infographic we made about the evolution of distance learning. Distance learning sure has come a long way in the last 300 years, and it’s sure to grow in the future as high-speed access to the internet spreads across the globe.


The Evolution of Distance Learning


The Evolution of Distance Learning: Just the Facts

Distance Learning is a teaching method that instructs and delivers learning material to students via remote correspondence.

Throughout the course of human history, education was first a social privilege of the wealthy and elite. As time progressed, educational rights were extended to citizens of developing nations. However, the pursuit of higher education posed obstacles for students who were physically unable to attend class.

With the advent of mail correspondence and development of the World Wide Web, distance learning has spurred realistic, scholastic opportunities for the public.

Let’s take a look at how distance learning has evolved over the last three hundred years! The following data has been extracted from the infographic.

1728: Boston, MA
Local teacher Caleb Phillips advertised the first shorthand correspondence lessons offered by mail.

1800: Across the U.S.
The expansion of the US Postal Service perpetuated distance learning correspondence courses.

1833: Sweden
Correspondence composition course offered through Swedish newspapers, precipitating the development of correspondence courses across Europe.

1840: Great Britain, UK
Shorthand instructor Isaac Pitman offered the first shorthand instruction via mail correspondence.

1852: Cincinnati, Ohio
Secretarial training in stenographics was conducted via post. Certificate of achievement was granted after course completion.

1856: Germany
Instructors Charles Toussaint and Gustav Langenscheidt taught language courses via mail correspondence.

1858: London, UK
University of London created “External Program”: the first distance learning-based courses on the universities level.

1873: Cape Town, South Africa
The University of the Cape of Good Hope founded a distance-learning facility.

1891: Pasadena, CA
The Colliery School of Mines was established as a correspondence program to educate on mining safety.

1900: Boston, MA
Anna Ticknor develops a home-based program that targeted New York women and achieved a 20,000+ student enrollment.

1922: Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania State College becomes first college to broadcast courses across radio networks.

1934: Iowa
The University of Iowa becomes the first university to employ television as a learning tool.

1953: Houston, Texas
First televised courses are offered at University of Houston

1963: Across the U.S.
Instructional Television Fixed Service (ITFS) was created by the FCC, which dedicated 20 tv channels for university use and instruction.

1968: Across the U.S.
‘Correspondence’ is changed to ‘Independent study’ to establish the difference between university and homeschooling methods.

1969: Across the U.S.
ARPANET is founded as the first version of Internet.

1971: Vienna, Austria
Philosopher Ivan Illich’s “Deschooling Society” book encouraged computer-based education.

1976: Phoenix, Arizona
University of Phoenix is established as the first “virtual college.”

1980: Alaska
First state educational satellite system offered daily television instruction to 100 Alaskan villages.

1982: Rindge, New Hampshire
The Computer Assisted Learning Center (CALC) was founded as a computer-oriented, adult learning center.

1989: Great Britain, UK
First publication emphasizes distance learning methods: “Research in Distance Education”

1992: Remote
The Electronic University Network helps to develop university virtual campuses through AOL.

1994: Remote
The first comprehensive, “online-only” curriculum is established by CALcampus.

1995: Virginia Beach, VA
Regent University offers the first online Ph.D. in Communications.

1997: Remote
WebCT 1.0 LMS, an e-learning system, is released, and is often considered the predecessor of BlackBoard.

1999: Washington, DC
Blackboard Course Systems introduced

2002: Australia
Virtual Learning environment, “Moodle 1.0” is released

2003: Remote
16% of US undergraduates were enrolled in at least one distance education course.

2004: Remote
SAKAI Project is formed: a collaboration of academic institutions/organizations developed a scalable software for virtual learning environments.

2005: Remote
Almost 3.2 million U.S. students were enrolled in at least one online course at university.

2009: Remote
53% of public high school students were enrolled in distance education courses.
YouTube EDU introduces thousands of free lectures.

2011: Remote
60% of four-year US private college/universities offer online classes!

From 1998 to 2008, there was a 150% increase in the number of students opting for distance-learning courses as part of their regular curriculum. Today, students from K-12 can remotely obtain an education that is tailored to individual needs. Distance learning enables flexibility on a budget, allowing students to work at their own pace while cutting costs of standard tuition fees. For more information on how distance learning can further your education and career, refer to, and begin your journey to enlightenment and financial freedom!


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