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From the fifties onwards

New research conducted on correspondence study during the early 1950's facilitated growth of this medium's knowledge base. In 1956 Gale Childs studied the application of TV instruction in combination with correspondence study. The survey concluded that TV instruction was an instrument for transmitting instruction, not a method in itself.

The success of the University of Wisconsin's Correspondence Study Unit also fostered acceptance of correspondence education. In 1958, a UWCU report stated that the correspondence unit offered nearly 450 courses in nearly 150 areas of learning, teaching 12,000 active students annually and giving personal instruction on more than 80,000 assignments. The Unit worked with the Foreign Service Institute to teach Immigration Law & Visa Operation to foreign service officers, and the U.S. Armed Forces Institute to teach 200 correspondence courses.

In the 1960's & 1970's, escalating costs of traditional education, mobile population, growth of career-oriented activities lead to renewed interest in distance education. In 1963 the Instructional TV Fixed Service (ITSF) reserved selected transmission frequencies for educational instruction. In 1967 the Corporation of Public Broadcasting was born, and in 1969 the British Open University was established as a degree-granting institution, utilizing TV courses as well as correspondence methods. In 1970 the Coastline Community College began distributing telecourses, becoming the first "virtual college" in the US, but by 1971 the New York State's Empire State College opened. It was the first open university in the United States. Few people know that in 1971 the first emails were sent, but a long time would still pass until email became a central resource in education. In 1978 the first computer Bulletin Board Systems (BBS) were available to a lucky few.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, cable and satellite television came into use. Women fuelled much of the growth: 67 % of participants in distance learning programs. Changes in the women's position within the family, political and social changes and technological evolution in the workplace made distance learning an economic necessity for the job market and produced new job opportunities.

These new technologies brought educational opportunity to the non-traditional student, and the lure of economic prosperity to higher educational institutions. Most agree that the first true educational television program was Sunrise Semester, based in Chicago. From 1959 into the early Sixties, Sunrise Semester featured a single broadcaster, a teacher, standing before a class with a camera shooting over the heads of the students. Yet the effort was not economically sustainable.

Here we come to the central question for educational media. Lacking government backing, how can educational media ventures pay their own way? A two-year task force (1970-1972) to design the television course of the future, by Coast Community College vice chancellor, Dr. Bernard Luskin defined a telecourse as a complete course of study, not adjunct curricula like a single movie, filmstrip, slide show, audiotape, or vinyl record. Students are separated from the teacher, standing or sitting before a camera in a classroom or studio somewhere else, in real time or not.



Online degree. History of Distance Learning. (Continue)

Bibliography on the History of distance learning and online degrees.

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