What Is the History of Online Education?

Online education, a form of modern distance learning, has expanded greatly in recent years due to advancing technologies and the prominence of the Internet. The types of online education and an outlined history can be found in this article. Schools offering American History degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Online Education Defined

Online education involves taking courses presented over the Internet, which can be taken synchronously (in real-time) through webcams and chat rooms or asynchronously through e-mail and discussion boards. Many high schools, colleges and universities offer online courses and degree programs to distance learning students and working professionals.

By taking courses over the Internet, you can save money on typical college costs (like room and board), have a flexible schedule, work at your own pace and take classes that you cannot physically attend. Blended programs also exist, which combine both in-class and online coursework.

Important Facts About Online Education

Prerequisites Distance learning at colleges and universities require a high school diploma or equivalent while other programs may require no previous education or experience
Program Availability (2013) 70.7% of degree granting institutions open to the public
Enrollment (2012) 12.5% of all U.S. postsecondary students are exclusively in distance learning, 13.3% are taking at least one online class
Enrollment Growth (2013-2014) 3.7%

Source: The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS)

Early Online Education

The concept of online education began around the time the Internet became widespread. Distance learning programs, which traditionally utilized print-based correspondence and videoconferencing, became technologically updated as Internet capabilities advanced. Colleges and universities adopted early online education and were later followed by elementary and secondary schools. Initially, some debated the effectiveness of online distance learning compared to in-class instruction; however, as technologies advanced and empirical studies verified the educational benefits of such programs, more schools took advantage of 'e-learning.'

Advancement of Online Education

As more colleges and K-12 school systems started offering courses over the Internet, more students started to recognize the advantages, conveniences and benefits of online education. Online education is rapidly cementing its position as a viable alternative to traditional classroom instruction and is currently the dominant form of distance learning.

According to a survey done by the Babson Survey Research Group and the College Board in 2013, more than 7.1 million students are taking at least one college course online. In fact, this survey showed that from the fall of 2002 to the fall of 2013, enrollment in online courses had steadily risen.

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