Just recently, as usual, I was researching the latest eLearning trends as part of my continual improvement and looking into what I should start focussing my energies on this next wave and made me think just how far back does eLearning go? And who was the first person or company to provide eLearning? It turns out that eLearning really got going in 1953 when the University of Houston offered television based classes. A few years later, the first adaptive teaching system (named SAKI) went into commercial production. Basically, with this system, the course got more challenging as learners improved. How cool is that? Video based instruction goes back this far!
When I was creating eLearning in the 1990s, some of the eLearning content I was producing consisted of video files that were massive. The files wouldn’t fit on a floppy disk and computer hard drives weren’t very big back then either. Thankfully, these things called Zip Drives were available (expensive, but available). The content I published was burned to a CD, and then I hired a CD replicating service to mass produce my content. Then, with the ever-growing popularity and power of the Internet, the need for CDs went the same way of the dinosaur. While many people think the Internet got started in the late 1990s, it came along far earlier. In 1969 the U.S. Department of Defense commissioned the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET), which became the Internet as we know it today. Also from my research, I found that in the 1970s, a company started delivering live training over corporate networks in what they dubbed “virtual classrooms.” By the 1980s, the first Computer Based Training solutions (CBT) were rolled out. Sure, those first CBTs were little more than teaching machines and limited in scope, they were nevertheless CBTs and delivered effective training. Isn’t that all interesting? I do. Well, from all that reading and history lesson, make sure you remember that this industry is not as new as you think.