The History of E-Learning

Online learning, or e-learning, dates back to the 1990s, when this trend started to emerge. During this time, the development of personal computers increased. With the advent of the Internet, open universities broadened their horizons, starting with the concept of distance learning.

The first online learning systems were set up to provide information to students, and as we entered the 1970s, learning began to become more interactive. In the UK, the Open University was keen to take advantage of e-learning. In the past, teaching materials were sent by post and also in correspondence with tutors. Our education system was designed to learn from afar. With the internet, we began to offer a wide range of interactive educational experiences and rapid e-mail correspondence with students, alongside the right coaching and mentoring.

In 1995, Murray Goldberg began at the University of British Columbia to work on the application of a web-based education system that was developed. Some argue that distance learning began in the 1840s, when English educator Sir Isaac Pitman taught shorthand at UFL. Pitman sent text postcards to students, and students sent him their assignments. Distance education continued to prevail, and the timeline of the Museum of Distance Education shows that the University of London was the first college to offer a distance education degree in 1858.

While online education may seem to have its beginnings in the late 1900s, the concept of distance learning came into practice in the US in the mid-nineteenth century. The idea of reliable correspondence led to the development and introduction of so-called commercial correspondence schools, where the post office distributed teaching letters to students and professors. Online teaching overcame the biggest disadvantage of distance learning – postal delivery time – and enabled students to interact in real time not only with teachers, but also with other students in the class.

Tencent’s classroom in mid-February instructed the Chinese government to allow a quarter of a billion full-time students to resume their studies through online platforms. This led to the largest online movement in the history of education: 730,000 students(81%) in Wuhan. In response to this high demand, many online learning platforms have offered free access to their services, including platforms such as Byjus, a Beijing-based educational technology and online tutoring company founded in 2011 and now the world’s most valuable ed-tech company. After Byjuss announced free live courses through its Think and Learn apps, the number of new students using the apps rose by 200%, according to Mrinal Mohit, the company’s chief operating officer.

Virtual schools allow students to follow a flexible learning environment that helps balance other commitments such as work, extracurricular curricula and family time. According to, 75% of public universities have online learning in their long-term plans. Parents and educators, however, are skeptical about virtual education.

The future will include hybrid education models that combine personal classes with distance learning and learning experience platforms. This new face of education requires visionary professionals to show the way. Become a pioneer and innovator to lead students and fellow students into the digital future.