How Distance Learning Got Its Start

Learning from a distance, or distance learning as it is often referred to, is a means of getting an education remotely, meaning the student and the instructor do not have to be in the same place as one another in order for the learning experience to take place.

Students and teachers have been engaged in distance learning since the 18th century by corresponding with one another. In more modern times, distance learning had become more widespread with the invention of audiovisual devices.

Learning between instructors and students using visual instruction was being practiced in the 1920s, mainly as a way to make abstract ideas easier to understand in the classroom. With the improvement of sound technology, instructors began to improve upon their teachings.

Teachers used the postal service in the early 1900s to correspond with students who were not able to attend conventional schools. Often, the students who took advantage of this early distance learning were in some way physically challenged, or were women who were prohibited from attending schools that opened only to men. Distance learning was also a way for people who worked during the daytime when classes were in session to further their education.

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