Online Distance Learning

Online distance learning, or e-learning, is learning that is conducted through use of the internet. The first computer based learning system was created in 1961 at the University of Illinois and was called Programmed Logic for Automatic Teaching Operations or PLATO. PLATO was a system that could be programmed with educational material that was accessible to students wanting to learn more about a subject area. After the foundation of the internet in 1969, online distance learning programs began developing. CALCampus in 1994 and 1995 was the first completely online distance learning school. There was no on ground campus so everything needed in the educational process could be completed online. Since that time many private and public universities began offering online distance learning programs. Online distance learning programs meet the needs of working adults, people living in rural areas, retirees, or any other student who can not spend the hours required to take courses in a classroom.

There are many similar characteristics online distance learning programs share whether they are from a high school, private or public college. The school will provide access to the online distance learning courses through a link on their website. Multiple courses may be displayed if the student is taking more than one online class. Once the course is selected the student will be able to access syllabi, assignments, exams, and grades. Before online distance learning existed, distance learning programs consisted of purchasing a book or audio tape and completing assignments through the mail with no interaction with classmates or an instructor. The online classroom will usually have a discussion area where other students and the instructor can be contacted and discussions can be tracked and participated in. Some virtual classrooms have a link for live web chats where interaction is live and interactive. The online distance learning classroom will have access to email where private conversations can be held. Assignments are typically submitted through an email attachment or can be saved to an assignment link. Most online distance learning programs provide access to a virtual library where research can be conducted for the class. Technical support through the college is offered for online distance learning students.

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Last Updated: June 4, 2019