The technology of distance learning, the ancestor of online education, appeared relatively recently. We have created its simple description with the most important dates.
The technology of distance learning, the ancestor of online education, appeared relatively recently: just 290 years ago, and the first uncertain steps in this area were made at the junction of the 18th and 19th centuries. Now we will analyze what EdTech is in details, so don’t go away!
The topic of the history of distance learning is so interesting that in 2007 the International Museum of Online Education and Technology was created, which brought together the best specialists in the field of the EdTech industry. The result of their work was a detailed chronology of all significant events that, in one way or another influenced the development of distance/online education.
Based on these and many other expert materials, we have created a simple process description with tables and the most important dates.
Beginning of distance learning history (18-19 century)
Caleb Phillips (USA) and Isaac Pitman (UK) are considered to be pioneers of EdTech. Phillips in 1728 and Pitman in 1840 began experimenting with a remote training format, where they used postal “technology” communication. Such an approach was especially successful among the people of the prosperous class, who knew how to write and read well.
Table 1. Distance learning in the 18-19 century.
|Existing technologies||Mail (lack of radio, telephony, television and Internet)|
|Training base for students||Courses of stenography|
|The source of information||Teacher|
|The method of information exchange||Letters by mail|
|The method of checking homework||Letters by mail|
|Territorial limitation of students||Only within one country|
1728 – Caleb Phillips (USA), a teacher of the “New Method of Shorthand”, placed advertisements in the newspaper “Boston Gazette” recruiting students for remote courses of stenography.
1840 – Isaac Pitman (UK) began to recruit a course for those who want to study stenography at a distance.
1858 – University of London (UK) for the first time invited its students to get a degree remotely. According to Forbes, 100 years later, Nelson Mandela used this system to study law as a student at the University of London while in prison on Robben Island.
1873 – Anna Eliot Tiknor (USA) created a postal education system for women called “The Society of Ticknor”.
1874 – the first US postal education program at the University of Illinois was implemented.
1892 – the first full-fledged distance learning department at the University of Chicago (USA), founded by William Raine Harper, appeared.
Development of distance learning technology (20th century)
In the 20th century, there was a powerful breakthrough in the development of technology: radio, telephone and television appeared and began fully functioning. These factors had a great influence on and powerfully transformed distance learning.
Table 2. Distance education in the 20th century.
|Existing technologies||Radio, telephone, television, mail|
|Training base for students||Universities|
|The source of information||The teacher, audio and video materials, printed material|
|The method of information exchange||One-way communication using audio and video transmissions, correspondence by mail, later, by phone|
|The method of checking homework||One-way communication using audio and video transmissions, correspondence by mail, later, by phone|
|Territorial limitation of students||Only within one country, very rarely an international format|
1906 – students enrolled for the first correspondence courses at Calvert School (Maryland, USA), designed for first-year students.
1911 – the first correspondence courses began to operate at the University of Queensland in Brisbane (Australia).
1922 – Pennsylvania State University (USA) began radio broadcasts of some of its courses. This approach began to be practiced by other universities under the name “The School of Air Movement”.
1934 – The University of Iowa (USA) conducts the first experiment with conducting courses on television.
1956 – The first Educational Television was founded in Chicago (USA).
1965 – The University of Wisconsin (USA) organized the first remote physics courses via telephone.
1969 – The most significant EdTech news of the 20th century is the launch of the Open University in the UK. It was here that they first began to develop special educational materials for distance learning. The main disadvantage still remained one-way interaction with students. They obtained information using printed material, radio and video broadcasts, and later, from audio and video tapes. The lack of feedback slowed down the process of learning.
1984 – The National University of Technology (USA) created the first accredited “virtual” university with the financial support of companies such as IBM, Motorola and HP. It provided academic courses for employees on TV.
The most interesting development in online education (21st century)
In the 21st century, the Internet broke into the lives of people, and then mobile communications, virtual reality, artificial intelligence and 3D printers. All this became the basis for creating cool innovative technologies in distance learning. And yes, now it met the EdTech definition and people call it “online learning”!
Table 3. The heyday of online learning in the 21st century
|Existing technologies||Mobile communications, Internet, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, 3D printers, radio and television, mail|
|Training base for students||Universities, online platforms|
|The source of information||Online interactive materials, holograms, printed books|
|The method of information exchange||Online: e-mail, messengers, chats|
|The method of checking homework||Online: e-mail, messengers, chats|
|Territorial limitation of students||Worldwide|
2006 – Apple presents to the world the online catalog of educational lectures on iTunes U, where it hosts courses on a large list of topics that are available to everyone.
2006 – a graduate of MIT and Harvard Salman Khan created a unique and probably the most popular product on the global online education market – Khan Academy. Its feature free access to all posted materials.
2011 – Stanford professor, Sebastian Trun, successfully conducted a free online course on artificial intelligence, after which Western mass media began talking about MOOC (massive open online courses), and American universities, having picked up the wave, began to actively create EdTech startups, which were platforms using a new way of learning.
2011 – one of the most successful educational online platforms, Udacity, based on Stanford University was created.
2012 – two more leaders in the online education segment – online platforms Coursera (based on Stanford University) and EdX (based on Harvard and Massachusetts University of Technology) – were created. Coursera was the first platform that began issuing certificates on the basis of the course.
2015 – LinkedIn, a well-known professional social network, became the owner of the online educational platform Linda.com and, thus, combined two important functions: communication and online learning.
2017 – Dicken’s University in Australia became the first in the world to sign an agreement with IBM to use IBM Watson (a supercomputer equipped with an artificial intelligence question-answer system) to create new EdTech tools: an online advisory service for students 24/7/365.
2018 – Guide Imperial College London (UK) announced a new way of teaching subjects to students using holograms. According to “The Telegraph”, they use technology developed by Canadian company Arht Media. The system works by projecting a live image onto a glass screen. Then an illusion of depth is created using the background.
2018 – Unimersiv, one of the best new platforms, was created, and includes educational content in the format of virtual reality.
What can we expect from online education in the future?
- Gamification of the educational process with elements of simulation;
- Mobile adaptation of educational materials for ease-of-use on personal gadgets;
- The introduction of virtual reality for practical training immediately after obtaining theoretical knowledge;
- The use of holograms as an ideal way of remote communication between teachers and students;
- New EdTech could use artificial intelligence for automation of many educational processes;
- Integration of learning processes with social networks, as one of the options for performing practical tasks.
Impressive, right? And this is just what can be predicted today, based on the available facts and information. But we are sure that the future will give us many more pleasant surprises associated with the upgrade of the online education system.
Well, are you with us?!