The idea of distance education has been in place for centuries, dating back to the 1800s. This type of learning emerged as a painfully slow process where teachers would teach lessons or assign homework through handwritten mail that may take weeks to arrive and the student would respond in a similar manner. Although it may seem unbelievable to think that distance learning has been around for so long, it has actually been a vital part of many institutions including beauty schools that teach things like cosmetology, esthetics and massage for years. Now that we are facing a global pandemic that has forced many of us to stay in our homes, online learning has surged in popularity. Almost every institution is using some form of remote learning to educate their students, but how did we get to that point?
Education has always been a highly sought-after commodity and people have been willing to procure it by any means necessary. Distance education started when educators like William Rainey Harper decided to offer correspondence education. Although these educators were mocked for designing this type of course, it was essential for those who could not afford an in-person education. For many years it was looked down upon as an inferior education, but as the years went on it became much more acceptable and even encouraged.
As radio began to develop, courses from accredited universities were starting to broadcast. Shortly after, the invention of the television offered a new alternative for distance learning. Many schools began to broadcast courses over the television or radio in order to attract students who may be unable to physically attend or could not afford the full tuition.
After the advent of the global internet, courses began to move to online platforms. Personal computers were starting to become more common in schools, businesses offices and homes. Although this started in the 70s, there wasn’t a real uptick until the late 90s and early 2000s. At this point, almost everyone had access to computers and new online course were being added at a rate of almost 10% a year. Currently, almost every accredited university as well as beauty schools offer online programs taught by the top educators. These programs including massage, esthetics cosmetology classes can be accessed from anywhere that has internet access.
Technology has rapidly evolved over the past few decades meaning that advancements in online learning are happening faster than ever. Communication has improved significantly, from instant messaging to audio and video responses, distance learning doesn’t feel so distant anymore. Video calls are a norm for remote learning as more and more students are adapting to the current environment. This allows the students and teachers to maintain some sort of connection. There may be even more ways to communicate in online classes than there are in face-to-face classes. This means that those who love to communicate will be fulfilled regardless of the medium they are learning from. Social media has even been involved in educating. Facebook pages have allowed classes to cultivate their own communities and discuss things past academics. Not to mention the numerous web applications that allow polling, surveys and so much more.
Remote learning has endless options for communication and in this technology age, it may even begin to overtake traditional methods of learning.