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History of Distance Learning

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Historical Overview by Dr. Andree Swanson Early History of Distance Education Contrary to the myth that distance learning is the result of the Internet, non-traditional distance education has its beginnings in Biblical times. Distance education first appeared in the early Christian church. “Paul wrote letters to newly formed churches in the hope that they might learn about the way” (Coe, 1999, p. 354). Later, Mongolian educators "taught that Genghis Khan established a national ‘mobile learning’ system” using speedy equestrians as the delivery method (Baggaley, 2008, p. 42). The correspondence style teaching approach grew through the years until a formal approach to education was developed. In the 19 th century, organizations and colleges began providing lessons and instruction using correspondence. As early as 1837, Sir Isaac James Pitman taught correspondence courses in stenographic shorthand and later created the Phonographic Correspondence Society (Casey, 2008; Tr