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When a new pandemic began to threaten the world in late 2019, there were concerns about businesses and schools would carry on. Luckily both were able to make swift transitions using online resources. Online communication, learning, and training existed before the pandemic, with 69% of academic leaders saying that online learning was critical to education in 2012. In fact, with the advent of the internet, distance learning has been gaining popularity since the late 1990s. Today, even businesses and schools that don’t work from distance use online resources to train and educate in addition to physical materials.

A Bit of History

The earliest recorded instance of distance learning, eLearning’s predecessor, is from 1728. Caleb Phillips’ newspaper ad offered shorthand lessons for any “Person in the Country desirous to Learn this Art, may be having several Lessons sent Weekly to them, be as perfectly as those that live in Boston”. Though we don’t know if anyone took him up on his offer, we do know that distance learning has long been in demand.

Before the internet went public in 1993, distance learning was done via the mail system. You could have endless books and guides sent to you from which you could learn. Though this method was effective and popular, one of its drawbacks would be the postal system itself. It could take weeks to reach you after a purchase, and that was if it didn’t get lost in the mail. That’s why when the internet became available, distance learning was replaced with eLearning, accessibility is everything.

Businesses and Schools

Schools moved over their computer-based learning systems to the internet as soon as they could. Many of these programs began development as early as 1960 but were adapted over time to the internet. Computers had been around for a while, but home computer systems introduced in the 1980s are what made this transition so smooth for schools. Only 15 years later in 2007, more than 20% of students nationwide were enrolled in at least one online class.

Businesses sought to take advantage of this opportunity as well but weren’t able to utilize the internet for their eLearning needs until the 2000s. Methods vary from business to business, but eLearning has allowed employees in all fields to increase their industry knowledge. Some are given access to at-home programs, and some access these programs at work. Either way, the internet is now an integral piece of workplace education.

The Modern Age

A pandemic forced more businesses and schools to rely heavily on the internet to conduct themselves, but the resources were available long before then. When it comes to training and classes, people have been trying to figure out how to overcome distance since the 1700s. Advancements in technology have allowed us to communicate new information faster than ever before. eLearning is no longer just a fad but rather mainstream. Schools, businesses, and even individuals utilize eLearning to increase knowledge. eLearning will continue to grow in success, with new advancements in technology pushing it even farther into the future.

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