In the millennia it has existed, education has undergone a number of major transformations, including distance learning. While distance learning may seem like a modern, internet-based invention, the reality is that it has existed in many forms for over three centuries.
The first traces of distance learning date back as far as the 1700s. In fact, it was in Boston, Massachusetts in 1728 when a teacher by the name of Caleb Phillips advertised the first shorthand correspondence lessons ever to be offered by mail. But it wasn't until the 1800s when the U.S. postal system bloomed that correspondence learning really took off.
A Universal Need
Distance learning isn't simply part of American history. In 1833, Swedish newspapers across the nation offered correspondence composition courses, which soon developed around Europe. 1840 saw shorthand courses offered via mail in Great Britain, and instructors Charles Toussaint and Gustav Langenscheidt offered language classes via the mail from Germany in 1856, according to the International Museum of Distance Education and Technology.