A Timeline of eLearning’s History

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The term “eLearning” refers to using the Internet or other digital technology to provide access to education beyond geographical barriers. Though the term was first used at a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) lecture in 1999, its definition is more recent (2001). That is a primary reason why the concept of eLearning is still novel.

Different areas, including education, have given rise to unique forms of eLearning, each with a special meaning. By 2026, the global eLearning market is projected to grow to $370 billion. 

The COVID pandemic of early 2020 contributed to this trend by increasing the demand for alternatives to traditional classroom settings. So learning and teaching tools, such as educational apps, online grading software, academic writing services where students can pay for essay writing or get help with other assignments, etc., became a lot more popular. 

The term “eLearning” is used interchangeably with “online learning” in the corporate, training, and higher education spheres. However, in the context of K-12 education, it refers specifically to the use of software-based learning tools.

eLearning History Timeline

Before 2000

Distance courses were being used to educate students in specific fields or disciplines much before the advent of the Internet. Isaac Pitman began his correspondence course in shorthand in the 1840s and had students learn the language from afar.

Secretaries and journalists adopted this symbolic writing system to increase productivity. Pitman, a trained educator, received their finished assignments in the mail and used the same method to assign new tasks to his students.

The first automated testing device appeared in 1924. Students could use this instrument to evaluate their own abilities. Then in 1954, BF Skinner, a professor at Harvard, devised the “teaching machine.” This machine allowed teachers to give students predetermined lessons.

The first computer-based training program, however, did not appear until 1960. PLATO, which stands for “Programmed Logic for Automated Teaching Operations,” was the name of this CBT application. It was created for the University of Illinois but has since found its way into classrooms around the state.

Early online education systems primarily served as a conduit for information delivery to students. However, this trend began to shift as the 1970s rolled around, and the Internet was used for a wider range of educational purposes. 

The Open University in the United Kingdom was among the first to embrace distance education. Remote learning has long played a vital role in the institution’s educational system. In the past, students who enlisted essay writing services to type my essay or to get tutoring help and their teachers communicated mostly through the postal system. 

Open University expanded its selection of interactive learning opportunities and improved its ability to communicate with students promptly with the advent of the Internet. It was able to achieve this through email, etc.

2000 to 2005

The widespread use of eLearning, which had been on the rise in the 1990s, was not derailed by technological advancements. In fact, these advanced the idea of eLearning. There was a rise in the usage of learning management systems and PowerPoint because of new improvements in technology, training, and software (LMS).

Many advances have been made in eLearning over these five years. Some of the most significant developments in this area include:

  • The widespread availability of wireless Internet.
  • The development of scalable vector graphics.
  • The enhancement of PowerPoint presentation tools.
  • The creation of learning objects and educational games.
  • The establishment of eLearning repositories.
  • The Standard for the Catchment of Online Resource Materials.
  • Learning management systems and social media networks.

2006 to 2010

During this time, progress was rapid. There was a general acceptance that eLearning resources were the norm. 

Student learning also got a boost from the development of more efficient technology procedures. During this period, eLearning was improved by various innovations, such as augmented reality, mobile learning, podcasting, and electronic books.

Beyond 2011

Learning management systems (LMS) designed for use with online content are always being developed further in the direction of making their use easier. And as eLearning has grown in popularity among students, teachers, and businesses, many of these technologies have become more user-friendly.

These advancements have been able to positively impact the academic performance of students who’d rather enlist the top paper writing services to deal with their homework than work on it themselves. 

Different technological innovations, such as tablet computing, cloud, and learning analytics, have significantly contributed to the development of effective eLearning.

eLearning Redefined

A clear and distinct trend in the world of eLearning is in how students actively participate in courses. It has caused the teaching process to evolve. Over the past half-decade, several recent breakthroughs in how people learn have emerged due to ground-breaking research in human behaviour and technology. These include:


Microlearning refers to having students digest information in little, manageable chunks at their own pace. It has emerged as a popular alternative to traditional, time-consuming online courses due to the proliferation of mobile devices.

Social Learning

Instructors have increasingly turned to social learning over the past five years. They have utilized it for educating a geographically dispersed workforce in the wake of downsizing, outsourcing, and decentralization. 

That has made it possible for workforces to achieve greater corporate efficiencies. The development of social media sites like Twitter is also a significant factor in the rise of this contemporary method of learning.

Adaptive Learning

Technological advancements have also aided eLearning’s transition from ILT to an adaptive, learner-driven approach. 

As a result of an individual’s answers and interactions with the training instruments, adaptive learning aids in modifying the training material and experiences. This, thus, enhances the learning process of students. 

The Bottom Line

Many students are reaping the fruits of flexibility and the low cost of online learning. As a result, individuals unable to attend traditional classroom settings due to different circumstances, including disability, can still gain a quality education.


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