E-learning, LMS Systems, The history of Online Learning, Online learning progression, history of online learning


Humanity has always placed a high value on learning. Throughout history, humanity used various methods to share information from one generation to the next. With oral tradition being a common approach, the invention of the printing press marked a significant turning point in education. With the capability to print books, knowledge was easily shared with larger audiences and widely distributed. Yet, there was a long way before the first LMS for enterprise appeared.

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The printing press brought literacy to many places, but it had limitations. As knowledge and information continue to grow at an unprecedented rate, the use of printed materials alone has become expensive and inefficient. Books previously relevant for decades now become outdated in years in the fast-paced business world. The first white-label dashboard platforms emerged as a convenient and efficient solution. Online learning has a long history, predating the first LMS.

Considering the rapid pace of technological and societal change, the rate at which knowledge and information are acquired and updated has accelerated. As a result, relying on printed materials has become costly and ineffective. Books, once considered valuable resources for years, now become obsolete in months. It is true in business, where knowledge quickly becomes outdated. Learning Management Systems (LMS) have emerged as a cost-effective and user-friendly solution for these issues. It's worth noting that the history of online learning predates the creation of the first LMS.

E-learning Background

Distance education is much older than the World Wide Web. Even before the widespread use of technology, remote learning was an option for learners seeking to retain specific skills or subjects. But when was online education first introduced as what we imagine when saying “Learning courses.” One example is Isaac Pitman's shorthand training, created in the 1840s.

He used correspondence to teach his learners shorthand, a symbolic writing method developed to help people achieve higher speeds of writing. This method was popular among professionals who had to work a lot with texts and take brief notes. Pitman used the post to exchange letters, sending his learners tasks and checking their works when they send them back.

When Did Online Learning Start?

While the question of who invented online classes is rather disputable, the classic version is that e-learning took its roots in the 1960s. Back then, Donald Bitzer, a lab, developed the first e-learning system—PLATO. In the 60s, he worked as an assistant at the University of Illinois and developed a program for computer learning. It proved very capable of networking and turned into a basic platform for online learning.

E-education instruments and techniques rapidly developed in the 80s and 90s. The first Macintosh in the 1980s brought PCs to many houses, letting people learn and acquire new skills. In the 90s, e-learning gained even more popularity, and learning courses established themselves as a dominant means of providing access to knowledge.

E-learning gained momentum in the 90s. A growing number of schools and other educational establishments switched exclusively to distance learning. This approach leveraged the power of the Internet to make education more accessible to learners previously constrained by geography or time. New technologies decreased the prices of online training programs and boosted learner autonomy. It made education more accessible to broader audiences.

During the 2000s, companies, and organizations also started using distance learning to upskill their workers. This is how prototypes started the LMS history, allowing workers to quickly and efficiently upskill. Learners obtained now had the chance to graduate online and get a degree, which improved their quality of life.

Prior to the Internet

When looking at the history of an educational technology timeline, one can notice that the first remote education appeared way before the web. The idea behind this education method was to use mail to facilitate communication between learners and teachers. It was called correspondence education. While it offered more flexibility, it also took a lot of time. Still, it became widely favored in Britain.

It wasn’t much of how we treat distance learning these days. The reason lay in huge delays in communication between learners and teachers. Post worked too slowly to let them exchange feedback, but still, it was a big step towards convenience and accessibility of education.

First steps

The 90s established the history of online learning the way we all imagine it these days. The widespread usage of computers opened a world of opportunities for people to learn from a distance. Things became even easier when the first standardized Office programs, and efficient data storage, filled the market.

Since online learning was very cost-efficient, it gained in popularity. The 90s introduced several new trends, such as the widespread use of various computers, the appearance of professional online learning software, and the shift of educational content from physical to digital format. All this boosted the development of online learning platforms.

Rapid Advancement

Technological progress only reinforced positions of online learning. The widespread usage of new technologies, processes, methods, and programs allowed to involve of more people in distance learning, both the learners and teachers.

The new milestones included increased access to wireless technology, new vector graphics technologies, Microsoft Office and analogs, and the development of learning objects, educational games, e-Learning repositories, SCORM, and LMSs. Social media have become a real game changer for online learning.

From 2006 to 2010, e-Learning means turned mainstream. Almost everyone could enjoy this learning process as it was simple and cheap. The combination of widespread usage of tablets, computers, and phones, low cost, and lack of geographical limitations changed the main idea of online learning. The faster and cheaper the Internet became, the more diverse means of online education people use to learn, including audio, video, presentations, 3d Tours, etc. Blended learning is another aspect that began to appear in the 2000s.

Modern LMS And E-learning Popularity Growth

E-learning advanced alongside internet technology. This process continued in the late 20th. Online learning has transformed from simply providing information to full-scaled learning and turned into a widely accessible method of information delivery to learners of all ages. The most efficient aspect of online learning is that it doesn't depend on the learner's location. Businesses also recognized the importance of e-learning and started implementing LMS solutions, such as AcademyOcean, to boost the skills of their employees.

The widespread usage of e-learning in tutoring and business made it even more popular among larger audiences. The technological advancement added new dimensions to online learning and improved the efficiency of E-learning.

Online learning is still in development. Teachers, tutors, and educators still debate on how to use e-learning to make it as efficient as possible. Everyone agrees that the real potential of distance learning is only yet to be found and determined. The cost effective-nature of e-learning makes it a great investment for upskilling. The most interesting aspect—online learning is still in development. It means that e-learning is still far from reaching its full potential. 

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What Is an E-Learning System

E-learning, an electronic or online learning system, is a digital platform or software designed to facilitate remote learning and education. It leverages technology to deliver educational content, training materials, and interactive activities to learners through digital devices such as computers, tablets, or smartphones. E-learning systems provide a flexible and accessible approach to learning, allowing individuals to engage in educational experiences from any location and at their own pace.

Benefits of E-Learning Systems

E-learning systems offer several benefits that contribute to their growing popularity in various educational and professional settings:

Flexibility and Convenience: E-learning systems allow learners to access educational resources and materials at their convenience. Learners can choose their learning time, place, and pace, allowing for a personalized and self-directed learning experience.

Accessibility and Reach: E-learning systems break down barriers of physical distance and enable learners from diverse geographical locations to access the same educational content. This expands educational opportunities and promotes inclusivity, reaching a wider audience with different backgrounds and learning needs.

Cost-Effectiveness: E-learning systems are often more cost-effective than traditional in-person training or education. They eliminate expenses associated with travel, printed materials, and facility rentals. Additionally, e-learning allows organizations to scale their training efforts without incurring significant additional costs.

Engaging and Interactive Learning Experiences: E-learning systems incorporate various multimedia elements, interactive activities, and gamified features to enhance learner engagement. Through the use of videos, animations, quizzes, and simulations, e-learning promotes active participation, knowledge retention, and practical application of learned concepts.

Individualized Learning: E-learning systems can adapt to individual learner needs by offering personalized learning paths and content recommendations. Learners can progress through the material at their own pace, focusing on areas of interest or where additional support is required. This individualized approach enhances the learning experience and increases learner satisfaction.

Continuous Learning and Professional Development: E-learning systems enable organizations and individuals to foster a culture of continuous learning. By providing a repository of educational resources, e-learning systems support ongoing professional development, upskilling, and knowledge retention, ensuring that learners stay up-to-date with industry trends and best practices.

Examples of E-Learning Systems

Learning Management Systems (LMS): LMS platforms, such as Moodle, Canvas, or Blackboard, are comprehensive e-learning systems used by educational institutions and organizations to deliver and manage online courses. They provide features like course creation, content delivery, assessments, and learner tracking.

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs): MOOC platforms like Coursera, edX, or Udemy offer a wide range of online courses from leading universities and instructors worldwide. Learners can access systems on various subjects, enroll in instructor-led or self-paced programs, and interact with a global community of learners.

Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs): VLEs, such as Google Classroom or Schoology, provide a virtual classroom experience where teachers can interact with students, share resources, assign tasks, and assess student progress. These platforms often integrate communication tools, file-sharing capabilities, and grading systems.

Webinar and Virtual Event Platforms: Platforms like Zoom, Webex, or Microsoft Teams enable the delivery of live webinars, virtual conferences, and online workshops. These platforms facilitate real-time interactions, presentations, and discussions among participants, replicating the experience of in-person events.

Corporate Learning Management Systems (CLMS): CLMS platforms are designed for corporate training and professional development. Examples include SuccessFactors and Cornerstone OnDemand.

Features of E-Learning Systems

E-learning systems have various features and functionalities that enhance the learning experience and facilitate effective online education. Here are some key features commonly found in e-learning systems:

  • Course Management

E-learning systems provide course creation, organization, and management tools. Educators or administrators can create and structure courses, manage enrollment, and set access permissions for learners. Course management features include content uploading, assignment creation, and tracking learner progress.

  • Content Delivery

E-learning systems enable the delivery of educational content in various formats. They support the uploading and hosting multimedia materials such as videos, documents, presentations, and interactive modules. Learners can access these resources anytime, allowing for self-paced learning.

  • Assessment and Grading

E-learning systems offer assessment tools to evaluate learners' understanding and progress. These tools include quizzes, tests, assignments, and interactive assessments. They provide automated grading and feedback, saving time for educators and providing learners with immediate feedback on their performance.

  • Communication and Collaboration

E-learning systems incorporate communication features to facilitate interaction between learners, instructors, and peers. These features include discussion forums, messaging systems, and chat functionalities. Learners can engage in group discussions, seek clarifications, and collaborate on projects within the e-learning platform.

  • Progress Tracking and Reporting 

E-learning systems allow learners and instructors to track progress and generate reports on learner achievements. Learners can view their completion status, access certificates, and monitor their performance. Instructors can analyze learner data, identify areas of improvement, and generate analytics reports.

  • Mobile Compatibility

Many e-learning systems are designed to be mobile-friendly, allowing learners to access content and participate in learning activities on their smartphones or tablets. This flexibility enables learning on the go and accommodates learners who prefer mobile devices.

  • Gamification and Interactive Features

E-learning systems often incorporate gamified elements and interactive features to enhance learner engagement. These can include badges, leaderboards, progress tracking, interactive simulations, and virtual rewards, creating a more immersive and enjoyable learning experience.

  • Integration and Compatibility

E-learning systems can integrate with other software or platforms, such as learning analytics tools, video conferencing software, or content authoring tools. The integration allows for a seamless user experience and enables additional features to enrich the learning environment.

  • Accessibility and Multilingual Support

E-learning systems prioritize accessibility by providing features for learners with diverse needs. This includes support for screen readers, closed captions, adjustable font sizes, and multilingual interfaces, ensuring learners can access content and navigate the platform comfortably.

  • Security and Data Privacy

E-learning systems prioritize data security and privacy. They implement measures to protect user data, secure login credentials, and comply with relevant data protection regulations. It ensures the confidentiality and integrity of learner information within the e-learning environment.

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By incorporating these features, e-learning systems provide a comprehensive and robust platform for engaging and effective online education and training. These features empower educators, engage learners, and support a rich, interactive virtual learning experience.

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