History of Online Learning

Online learning is not a new thing; however, the technology, “internet” is comparatively new. The concept of online education started 170 years ago in Great Britain when students were sent lessons by instructors through mail. It gave birth to distance learning, and today’s online courses are modern versions of their forerunners. Online education allows students to interact with instructors and students in real time.

history of online learning


University of Illinois developed an intranet for students in 1960. That intranet was a system of combined computer terminals where students can access course materials and listen to recorded lectures. That intranet evolved into PLATO (Programming Logic for Automatic Teaching Operations) that was operated on thousands of terminals across the globe. PLATO was used to create many concepts of social networking that we are aware of today including message boards, chat rooms, and screen sharing


First massively played educational computer game was released in 1979 for Apple II, and it was included with Apple software packages throughout the 80s. The concept of that game was simple, and it introduced the idea of learning with computers and more precisely the idea of learning in virtual environments.



Electronic University Network (EUN) was inaugurated with the mission to help colleges and universities expand the availability of online courses, EUN began its first online course in 1986 that was used with DOS (Disk Operating System) and Commodore 64 computers. It was before the invention of World Wide Web (WWW)


This was the year when the access to the internet was viral with companies like America Online, Delphi, and CompuServe appearing as the major commercial online service provider. The greater number of people have access to the internet in 1994. CALC (Computer Assisted Learning Center) was changed into CALCampus with its concept of first online-based school through which administration, real-time classroom instructions, and materials were provided to students online in the same year.


California Virtual University (CVU) was established in 1997 to provide information about all online courses available from recognized colleges and universities of California. The concept of California Virtual University for online courses came to an end in 1999; however, the concept gave rise to numerous online courses that were offered to students. In 1997, Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks (JALN) was a turning point in online education. It is a peer-reviewed journal that provided a dedicated space for academic research focused on online education.


Jones International University became the first fully online university in the U.S. in 1999, and it was accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Jones International University was proven as a legitimate alternative to traditional and classroom-based college instructions.

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Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) began offering lectures and course materials online with its OpenCourseware project in 2002, most of which were provided free to people anywhere in the world. MIT provided materials for over 2000 graduate and undergraduate courses online.


As we moved further in 2009, the impact of online education could not be denied. The number of students showing interest in online courses drastically increased to 5.5 million. Traditional universities expanded the online courses and degree programs in 2009. Many business owners stated that the quality of online education is equivalent to traditional degree programs offered by universities and colleges. Professors from different universities started to teach online courses to students, because they were seeing interest in students towards online courses.

 online learning

2014 to onwards

What is the future of online learning? In 2014, it was revealed that millions of students are showing interest towards online education programs. It is a possibility that online learning will replace traditional programs in future. There are chances that students showing interest in online education will increase at a fast pace. Students are choosing to take online courses today, because they are seeing many benefits in online courses. Online learning has made it possible for students to complete a particular course in quick period of time. The concept of online learning started 170 years ago, and today it has become a reality with lots of institutes offering online course to students. Future of online education is bright, because it has brought many benefits for students. It is a possibility that online learning will take the place of traditional education in upcoming days.

Author Bio:

Jordan Belfort is a professional content writer, and he has experience of 6 years in the marketing field as a content writer. Most of his articles are about education, because he feels good by guiding students. He works in a Cheap Assignment company that offers essay writing services to students.