Online Education – A Rich and Long History
Online education has a long and rich history dating back to the 1800s and even earlier. Students who were unable to attend traditional schools for a variety of reasons sought out alternative educational opportunities that would allow them to better themselves and their prospects for the future. Some of the earliest roots of online education started with correspondence schools via mail, continuing on through the age of radio and television, on to the advent of the internet, and up to the present day. Along the way, California Coast University (CCU) has been a pioneer in offering degree programs through distance education. The following article traces some important milestones in the development and history of this important method of educational delivery:
Online education has its roots in correspondence education. For this, students would subscribe to varying lessons or programs by mail. They would receive their lessons and study materials by mail, complete those lessons and then send them back for grading. The instructors would return the graded lessons, and the student would proceed to complete the next lesson and so on. In the beginning, courses were vocational in nature with students completing courses to learn various skills such as shorthand. This was followed by colleges and universities offering courses, such as the University of Chicago who began offering courses in 1892.
Radio and Television
The next evolution in online education was the delivery of educational programming through the radio. In the 1920s, Pennsylvania State College broadcast course lectures over radio waves, followed by the State University of Iowa. This allowed people to receive lectures in the comfort of their home – utilizing technology that was cutting edge at the time. As the 1950s’s ushered in the television era, the University of Houston became one of the first institutions of higher learning to offer courses through TV. This method of delivery continued on into the 1960s and 1970s with many more institutions of higher learning offering educational courses through this popular medium.
Beginning in the 1980s, the advent of the Internet created opportunities for delivering educational programming in new and innovative ways. Complete degree programs could be delivered via the Internet at a much faster pace. Students could receive their study materials, complete examinations, papers, and projects, submit their assignment online, interface with their faculty, and receive their grades – all through their personal computer. As technology expanded, the only limitations were how creative educators could be in designing curriculum that would lend itself to delivery through these new technologies.
California Coast University
Paralleling the evolution of online education, CCU, after its founding in 1973, began offering degree programs through correspondence study. As technology evolved, so did CCU. First, students were able to submit their work via fax, then email, finally utilizing the Internet and CCU’s own learning management system – Coast Manager. Along the way, the university developed curriculum that was sent in digital forms, saving on paper, time, and postage. This was more environmentally friendly and cost effective and helped to keep tuition down. Courses could be delivered to students via the student portal in a much faster manner, allowing students to stay on track and reach their educational goals in a timelier manner. The creation of the learning management system also allowed faculty to work remotely and be able to grade and respond to students from various parts of the country.
Throughout all these advances, California Coast University has tried to keep up with the times and offer programs and courses that are supported by distance-learning technologies. We have supported our students in reaching their educational goals in their own time and in a flexible manner that supports the working adult learner. We are proud to be part of the long and rich legacy of online education and look forward to the next wave of opportunities in technology!