Earning any type of degree is a process that has changed over the years. With the evolution of different technologies, a student is no longer obligated to be limited by schedules or financial restrictions like they were before.

Not only are online degree programs seeing a rise in enrollment due Covid-19, but they are also seeing a rise in part due to more nontraditional students looking to go to school but need more flexibility and cheaper tuition.

Alternative Education’s Beginnings

Though the technology for online learning is new, the concept of distance learning is actually 170 years old. The distance learning concept got its start in Great Britain when a correspondence instructor used the postal service to send and receive student assignments.

In 1960, before the Internet was actually created, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign created an Intranet though a system of linked terminals. This allowed students to connect to course materials and recorded lectures.

It wasn’t until Apple’s 1979 release of a game, Lemonade Stand, that the idea of online education was really sparked. Just five years later EUN (Electronic University Network) offered its first course. This course was used with DOS and Commodore 64s.

The mid to late 90’s was when online education really started to expand. The year of 1997 saw the establishment of California Virtual University (CVU) that provided information for available online courses at California institutes.

Then, in 2002 MIT began offering materials for over 2000 of their courses online.

When it Began to Change

By 2009 about 4.5 million students were taking some sort of online class. This is when universities started to really expand degree programs to be offered as complete online degrees.

At one point there was a stigma regarding online education programs. Somehow a rumor got started among faculties and professors, saying that online degrees were not as good or prestigious enough to land you a good career.

However, employers have stated that a degree obtained through online programs is actually just as good as obtaining a traditional degree.

There came a point where many people believed that online learning would completely replace the face-to-face education modality. However, traditional programs and campuses are still going strong and do not seem to be on their way out.

As of 2014 there was a prediction that the number of students that will be enrolled in at least one online class of any kind was to quadruple in size. Guess what, as of 2020, it has!


Starting as a very minimalist way for students to access course materials, online education has grown to something even bigger and better.

Instead of just minor access to courses, universities now offer entire degree programs for online higher education.

These programs are a great alternative for those who are unable to attend a traditional college campus for whatever reason they may have. The use of the internet allows for more flexibility in schedules, lower tuition costs, and the ability to learn at your own pace no matter how long it takes.

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