The Evolution of Online Education

The way educators teach and students learn changes all the time. What was once considered a classroom-only event has become an online phenomenon. That’s right, online education is making the learning process easier for college students across the country. From online IT courses to online degrees and every digital milestone in between, here’s a brief history of online education and how it continues to evolve. 

Online Learning

Early Examples of Distance Learning

Online learning is a form of distance learning. Believe it or not, distance learning has been around ever since radio was the ultimate form of entertainment. In fact, as early as the 1920s, universities were offering distance learning in the form of radio courses in which college students could listen to broadcasts of their professors’ lectures.

With the proliferation of television in the late 1960s, universities began offering their own educational networks for part-time students. From there came the computer craze of the early 1980s. With it, universities and independent educators began offering computer assisted learning courses.

The Introduction of High-Speed Internet

Educators didn’t utilize the web as a teaching tool until the introduction of universally available high-speed Internet in the mid 90s. The Internet and the availability of service changed the face of education by introducing online learning as a viable option to a traditional college education.

With the late 90s comes the introduction of Blackboard and other online educational tools, which makes the delivery of assignments and other course materials via the Internet a possibility. Shortly thereafter, in the early 2000s, colleges and universities begin offering classes in both online and hybrid formats.

From Online Courses to Online Degrees

The majority of working adults and non-traditional college students didn’t really catch on to the online education trend until the early to mid 2000s. From business degrees to online bachelor’s in criminal justice, online degree seekers jumped to the millions by 2005.

Likewise, the number of colleges and universities offering online classes also skyrocketed in the mid 2000s. As more job providers recognized online degrees as a credible form of education, the popularity of online degrees exploded with millions of degree seekers enrolling in online courses between 2005 and 2010.

Present Day Online Education

Online courses and degrees are now commonplace with more than 95 percent of colleges and universities offering online coursework. In addition, with advancements in wireless Internet connectivity and mobile devices, educators are taking their teaching techniques to all new levels.

Professors are now teaching via Podcasts and independent educators are even offering full-fledged online courses free of charge for anyone willing to learn. As a result, students are learning from anywhere, at anytime, on their own schedules, and they’re still walking away from their college experience with accredited degrees.

The Future of the Classroom

With the Internet changing the face of education at an incredibly rapid rate, the idea of obtaining an online degree will likely replace the traditional path. More colleges and universities will transition to an online atmosphere, more online degrees will become available along with more affordable tuitions, and the phrase, “I graduated from a .com university” will surely become the norm.

If history is any indication, then online education will continue to evolve.

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