The First 100 Years: Innovation in Distance Learning

Article excerpt

(ARA) - As students nationwide head back to school this fall, it is fascinating to reflect on how education has evolved over the past century. According to a Harvard University Report, fewer than 10 percent of 18-year-olds in 1910 graduated from high school, compared to more than 75 percent in 2009, as reported by a similar study.

Furthermore, where a college education was once confined to an elite minority, higher education today is attainable for the majority of Americans. Perhaps the most dramatic impact was made by the emergence of distance learning, which allows students to access degree programs targeting their unique educational goals from anywhere in the world.

According to Going the Distance: Online Education in the United States, a 2011 report from the Babson Survey Research Group and the College Board, nearly one-third of all students in higher education are taking at least one online course. Enrollments for online courses at the elementary and secondary levels are growing as well. The Sloan Consortium, an advocacy group for online education, reports that an estimated 1.03 million students at the K-12 level nationwide took an online course in 2007-2008, up 47 percent from two years earlier.

Today, the United States pays tribute to the possibilities distance learning brings to education during National Distance Learning Week, Nov. 5-9. Sponsored by the United States Distance Learning Association, the awareness week seeks to promote and celebrate the growth and accomplishments occurring today in distance learning.

Distance learning hasn't always been associated with its modern day definition. Early 20th century students were introduced to their version of distance learning technology via the first portable silent movie projector. …