Who Actually Started Online Education?

Online education was only able to start and grow once the Internet started and grew, but the principles behind it came into existence before the Internet arrived on the scene. Still, here are a few examples that helped give birth to the idea or principles of online education. They prove that the notion of online education and its possibility are not mere inventions by one person, but that thousands of people had a hand in slotting together the jigsaw that then became online education. Even the people that helped make the idea of distance learning more palatable are to thank for the eventual success of online education.

1. Daniel Alpert and Don Bitzer

The first Internet-base community that was created just for learning was started at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The developers were called Daniel Alpert and Don Bitzer, and they called their B.F. Skinner-inspired invention “PLATO.” It began in 1959 as a Computer-based Education Research Laboratory Project.

The PLATO users were able to access over 15,000 hours of lessons from a computer within a one-room hub. The technology and demand grew over time and so more hubs were set up. When the Internet became popular, they used chat rooms and bulletin boards to help create more connectivity for learning communities around the world.

2. Douglas Engelbart

This is the guy that invented the mouse and a bunch of other technological advances, though none as popular as the mouse. He wrote a book called, “Augmenting Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework” in 1962, which was probably a mild inspiration for the Borg in Star Trek. In 1968, he and a Stanford Research crew released online system software that tested ideas around enhancing human understanding via technology. Their goal was to one day enhance the human mind with technology.

3. University of Alberta Department of Medicine

This university started offering online courses as early as 1968. They were rudimentary courses that consisted of 17 classes and 20,000 account users had used it up until it was dismantled in 1980. It had all that a teacher needed to run a class, keep track of grades and organize their documents. Cardiology students were able to communicate and collaborate with other departments in the campus so they were better able to analyze EKGs.

4. Thomas A. Dwyer:

Students were allowed to set their own assignments, and the motivate students seem to have learnt a lot from online education. The learning students were allowed a fair degree of autonomy as they were allowed to complete tasks whenever they felt necessary, at a pace the suited them, and there was a little proof that this works very well for some students, which helps to prove the premise of e-learning isn’t a faulty one.

5. Ivan Illich

Ivan operated in 1971 as a social commentator that was critical of the way education had an institutional nature. He didn’t build upon any of Thomas A. Dwyer’s findings, but he did echo the same level find of support for self-directed learning and independent learning. He was a part of making independent distance learning a little more acceptable and a little less like something to be scared of or to shy away from.

6. Online education pioneer Alan Kay

Alan has a fair amount of influence over personal computing, and he used that influence to help push the idea of online education. Added to which, we couldn’t have modern online learning if it were not for the GUI (graphic user interface) interfaces that were pioneered whilst Alan was at Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC).

Alan was also thinking of the education industry when he designed folders and menus, which are thing we take for granted these days. He also created the “KiddiKomputer” which was designed for the classroom.

7. Murray Turoff and Starr Roxanne Hiltz:

The New Jersey Institute of Technology organized the Computerized Conferencing and Communications Center. It was created to study technology for information-spreading applications, and much thought was given to how it may shape education. In 1976 and up to 1991, the group studied the various outcomes of computerized and online learning environments that blended digital and traditional learning. They confirmed early reports about greater student engagement and higher scores in tests.

8. Open University:

The Open University was a big believer in distance learning, and offered mail-order qualifications via distance learning. In 1976, they started their Cyclops whiteboard system and launched online classes via their CICERO program.

The Open University provided the first Internet-based course credit and were pioneers in their own right. It was one of the pioneers of practice and did a little to help programmers experience distance learning too, especially since they couldn’t learn as effectively with mail learning. They used Cyclops for teleconferencing a long time before Google Talk and Skype ever existed.

9. Coastline Community College:

In 1976, the first remote community college was created. It has a few mini campuses, but mostly it is all about distance learning. It is also the first college to offer a fully online degree. It was fairly popular in its time, though it is only now that online learning as fully appreciated as it should be. Without trailblazers like these, there is a chance that online education may have never really caught on or got off the ground in a big way.

10. Southern Alberta Institute of Technology and Bow Valley College

The online blackboard is used around the world, and was invented by the Learning Manager in the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology and Bow Valley College. It was created so that students may hand in their essays, work on projects, ask questions and take tests. It allows students, teachers and administrators to access their own areas.

11. Donald P. Ely

Donald had a passion for communications technology and psychology. He created the Philosophy Underlying Educational Technology resource in the 1970s, and he made a bunch of claims about the tech-enhanced learning that were pretty obvious in hindsight. He was the director of the ERIC Clearinghouse on Information and Technology, which is a very large database that collects scholarly research so that students may use it online.

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