The Evolution of Distance Education

By Tracey, Monica W.; Richey, Rita C. | Distance Learning, November 1, 2005 | Go to article overview

The Evolution of Distance Education


Tracey, Monica W., Richey, Rita C., Distance Learning


Educational programs in which students and the instructor are separated by place and often time are currently the fastest growing form of instruction both in the United States and throughout the world (Gunawardena & McIsaac, 2004). This is commonly known as distance education, and even though it may currently be viewed as innovative, distance education dates back to the early 1800s (Verduin & Clark, 1991). To a great extent, the evolution of distance education has paralleled advancements in technology, but its development is also a reflection of changing educational values and philosophies. This article has three purposes: to describe the growth of distance education over the past 2 centuries; to identify factors which have facilitated this growth; and to identify emerging conceptual orientations in distance education thinking.

Over the years, many terms have been used to describe distance education. These include distance learning, open learning, networked learning, flexible learning, distributed learning, independent study, learning in connected space and, today, on-line learning is common. However, distance education (by any name) is generally recognized as a structured learning experience that can be engaged in away from an academic institution, at home or at a workplace, and can lead to degrees or credentials (Gunawardena & McIsaac, 2004; Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2000).

EARLY FORMS OF DISTANCE EDUCATION

DISTANCE EDUCATION VIA CORRESPONDENCE

The first generation of distance education was print-based correspondence study, and print continued to be the predominant delivery medium for distance education until the beginning of the 1970s (Garrison & Shale, 1987). In preindustrial Europe, education had been available primarily to males in higher levels of society but, in the 1800s, with the event of the first correspondence program, the doors of education slowly opened to the rest of the population. For example, an advertisement in an 1833 Swedish newspaper touted the opportunity to study "Composition through the medium of the Post" (Bratt, as cited in Verduin & Clark, 1991, p. 15). In 1840, England's newly established Penny Post allowed Isaac Pitman to offer shorthand instruction via correspondence. Three years later, instruction was formalized with the founding of the Phonographic Correspondence Society, the precursor of Sir Isaac Pitman's Correspondence Colleges (Dinsdale, as cited in Verduin & Clark, 1991). In 1886, H.S. Hermod, of Sweden, began teaching English by correspondence, which led to the founding of Hermod's in 1898, one of the worlds largest and most influential distance teaching organizations. Distance education flourished in Britain in the late 1800s with the founding of a number of correspondence institutions, including Skerry's College in Edinburgh in 1878, and the University Correspondence College in London in 1887 (Curzon, 1977).

This movement ultimately made its way across the ocean to the United States. Correspondence study was integral to the University of Chicago which, in 1890, created a university extension as one of five divisions, the first such division in an American university. The extension division was divided into five departments: lecture study, class study, correspondence teaching, library, and training. The correspondence study department was successful in terms of student enrollment; each year 125 instructors taught 3,000 students enrolled in 350 courses (Rumble, 1986).

In 1891, Thomas J. Foster, editor of the Morning Herald, a daily newspaper in eastern Pennsylvania, began offering a correspondence course in mining and the prevention of mine accidents. His business developed into the International Correspondence Schools, a commercial school whose enrollment exploded from 225,000 in 1900 to more than 2 million in 1920 (Simonson et al., 2000).

In the late 1800s, Anna Eliot Ticknor founded a Boston-based society to encourage study at home, which attracted more than 10,000 students in 24 years. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Evolution of Distance Education
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.