Just what the world needs, right? Another blog. This one, though, is different. If you have any questions about going back to college, and you need to do it online because of constraints on your time or where you live, this blog will give you the answers you need.
Distance education started with relatively low tech methods like pen and paper correspondence courses taught through the mail. Groups of learners were served by circuit riders who traveled to towns near colleges and universities to hold classes primarily for teachers in public schools. Later, audio conferencing between groups of people at various sites regionally or nationally gave a big boost to higher education. People in different locations would meet to sit around a speaker-phone and interact with the teacher. Later, video conferencing became the preferred method of teaching students at a distance. The biggest problem with these types of meetings was that there was a limited amount of information that could be shared during a scheduled meeting time that might or might not be convenient for the student.
In the late 1990’s, colleges and universities started delivering classes over the internet. The first learning management systems were very simple. Systems like Web Course in a Box were basically drop boxes that allowed an instructor to upload documents to a space where students could then download them. Those primitive systems evolved into the sophisticated systems like Blackboard, Moodle and others that we have now. As technology develops, online courses will become even more interactive, with increased engagement and information sharing between professors and students.
Next post, we’ll take a look at the current state of online learning and what it takes to be a successful online learner.