A brief history of online learning
Lepi, K. (2012) Who actually started online education? Edudemic, November 12
No – it wasn’t Sebastian Thrun or Daphne Koller or any of the other MOOC aficionados.
This very brief history posted by Katie Lepi has a decidedly Canadian bias, but is still pretty informative, all the same. In fact it goes back as far as 1959 with the design of PLATO.
I was pleased to see it referred to CYCLOPS, a teleconferencing system I helped to pilot at the UK Open University in 1976.
Given the Canadian slant, I thought it might have referred to CoSy, an online computer-mediated communication system developed by the University of Guelph, and used by the Open University for its first course using online learning, DT 200, with over 1,300 students, in 1988.
I was a faculty member who designed and taught the block of four week’s work on information technology in education and training on DT200. As part of the assessment students had to write an evaluation of computer-mediated communication. My wife was a student taking this course, so her informal feedback (mainly in the form of curses and slammed books) helped shaped my views as well! Conversations went something like this: ‘How do you set the dip switches on the printer?’. ‘Sorry, I can’t help you with that – it’s part of your assessment.’ ‘I don’t want to be assessed – I just want to get the !@x%$ thing to work!’ (If you are old enough to remember dip switches, you’ll appreciate her difficulties.) I’m glad that her ‘anonymous’ assessments were marked by someone else in the team.
Being pioneers is fun, looking back, but it doesn’t always seem that way at the time.