The History of Distance Education

Events that shaped Distance Education

January 1852
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January 11 (Sunday)  
1852

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The Pittman Shorthand Training Program was a secretarial correspondence course for stenographic shorthand.

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January 1881
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January 3 (Monday)  
1881

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Chautauqua Correspondence College was the first college to offer and award degrees and diplomas by correspondence.

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January 1890
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January 3 (Friday)  
1890

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Colliery School of Mines offered vocational safety training for mine, iron, and steel workers through instructional delivery system.

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January 1892
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January 2 (Saturday)  
1892

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The University of Chicago is the first university to create distance learning program.

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January 1921
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January 3 (Monday)  
1921

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The first educational radio licenses granted.  Between 1918 and 1946 the Federal Communications Commissions granted radio licenses to more than 200 colleges.  While there was only 1 credited course via radio, this technology laid the groundwork for the future of distance education.

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January 1943
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January 2 (Saturday)  
1943

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Television was used to broadcast courses by the University of Iowa.  Post World War II, networks such as NBC and CBS broadcasted educational programming.

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January 1969
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January 3 (Friday)  
1969

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The University of the Air, later known as Open University (OU), was established in Britain.  OU was set up by the British government as an “independent, large-scale system dedicated entirely to distance education, using the full range of technologies and having its own faculty, funds, and degree-giving authority.” (Moore, 2003, p. 10).  OU has been one of the most successful examples of a university dedicated to strictly distance education.  It has proven to contend with top worldwide universities. 

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January 1970
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January 3 (Saturday)  
1970

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Coastline Community College broadcasts the first fully televised college course.

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January 1971
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January 3 (Sunday)  
1971

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Intel released the microprocessor.

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January 1978
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January 3 (Tuesday)  
1978

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The first email sent using the Intel inter-office system on the first computer Bulletin Board System (BBS).  This changed made communication and the flow of information faster and easier.

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January 1982
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January 3 (Sunday)  
1982

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The National University Teleconference Network (NUTN), a coalition of 67 colleges and 10 programs for the purpose of communication and distance education, was established.  NUTN used videoconferencing to connect students.


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January 1991
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January 3 (Thursday)  
1991

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Tim Berners-Lee developed the World Wide Web connecting computers around the world.  The Internet proved to be vital easily connecting students and increasing the possibilities for distance education.  

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January 1993
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January 3 (Sunday)  
1993

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Jones International University was established.  It was the first university to be accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and offered bachelors and graduate degree.

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January 1998
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January 3 (Saturday)  
1998

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Penn State offered the first graduate degree in adult education through its World Campus.

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January 1999
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January 3 (Sunday)  
1999

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The federal government established the Distance Learning Education Demonstration program.  This program was to determine the most effective practices of instruction through distance education.  

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January 2005
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January 3 (Monday)  
2005

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Blackboard and WebCT merge, making Blackboard a leader in educational technology.

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