What is a LMS?

Painting and Printing on Arts Works
Article: Online Learning 
Author: Olusola David, Ayibiowu
Edition : 11
Year : 21 August, 2017
Published: Online by Creative Arts Solution Foundation

What is a LMS?
LMS stands for Learning Management System and it's a global term for a computer system specifically developed for managing online courses, distributing course materials and allowing collaboration between students and teachers. A LMS will allow you to manage every aspect of a course, from the registration of students to the storing of test results, as well as allowing you to accept assignments digitally and keep in touch with your students.
LMSs are built on various platforms, commonly PHP, .Net or Java and they will hook up to a database such as PostgreSQL, MySQL or SQL Server. There are many LMSs out there, both commercial and open source.
In a corporate environment such a system can be used to monitor staff, and keep records of appraisals and training. Whether your course is run for a few learners over a long period of time, or for many over a shorter period, a Learning Management System makes your life easier and helps your course run smoothly. A good LMS will also have a reporting system so you can access information that would be tricky to gather yourself.
LMSs do vary in the features they offer, but most systems are likely to have some or all of the following features:
Easy GUI
GUI stands for Graphical User Interface. Most LMSs offer customization options for the interface to allow the user to give a unique flavor to his learning platform. Although the GUI is there to make the environment more aesthetically pleasing, it’s also meant to be functional.
Aside from the GUI an LMS will oftentimes offer several different options for customization to tailor the system to your needs. Language options, notification settings and other important features can be changed to suit the way you want your LMS to work for you. This is great because one LMS can be used by many different types of users, each with unique preferences.
The system may allow students to enroll online and keep track of their details, course progress and test results for you. It may also allow students to pay their course fees online via credit card, debit card or PayPal.
Virtual Classroom
Your LMS may integrate with whiteboard systems for virtual classroom sessions and help you to schedule sessions too. It may offer you the ability to send out invites or reminders for classroom sessions and integrate with an online calendar system or with Outlook.
Social Networking
An LMS may be able to integrate with social media so you can share your content or news items via Twitter or Facebook etc. at the click of a button.
Your LMS system should also have built in functionality for communicating with your students, such as sending out a bulk email to everyone on a particular course, to individual students or to students studying a particular pathway. You should also be able to schedule automatic emails which can be very useful for notifying students of an upcoming test or virtual classroom session. A LMS may provide you with a chat room or a forum that you and your students can use
Course pathways
With your LMS you should also be able to specify the details of a course with a flexible work flow to set students on certain ‘learning pathways’.
Any good LMS will have a reporting system you can tap into, generating reports that you can export into Excel, and also offering you graphical representation of your data for ease of understanding.
Help with content creation
Being user-friendly is more than just a phrase. It’s an action. When entering into your LMS for the first time it’s good to have at least a sample of a course to get you going. An example of how to upload, manage, and distribute content within the system can go a long way with a new user. Templates are also good at getting new users going.
Tests are an important part of many online courses and most LMSs will have plenty of functionality related to this. You'll want a robust test environment with various types of tests available to you and some built-in templates to use as a starting point. It's likely that you'll have the ability to randomize test questions and set a time limit for tests. With the test environment being within your LMS, you should also be able to rely on the security of your system. Test results will be stored and available to you within the reporting area of your LMS. You should also be able to set up a multiple choice test to be self-grading and choose to have the results delivered just to you, or perhaps also displayed instantly on-screen for your students.
If you want to learn more on what a Learning Management System is, you can check our thorough guide that explains everything in detail!
What are the types of learning management systems?
There are many types of LMSs available depending on your needs and budget. There are even free learning management systems such as open source software that by definition are 'open' i.e. the source code is freely available for you to use and to adapt to your own needs. Many users of open source software will make improvements or use add-ons for their own needs, and then put it back out into the community for others to use. Open source LMSs can grow rapidly if they get enough interest and input. While you may not get any official support for an open source LMS, there will usually be a strong community base online with forums or email lists where you can ask for and offer help.

Of course there is also also the commercial type of learning management systems. If you're paying for an LMS then you'll get a more robust product, you're also likely to get good documentation and you'll probably have a good level of support as well. A commercial product may be more stable and bug-free than a free version, but of course there are always exceptions to that rule so it's a good idea to read reviews of various LMSs before you make your choice. Check out the features to ensure that everything you need is included.
You'll also need to consider whether to use a deployed solution or a hosted system. A deployed solution system will generally be set up on computers within your premises and behind your firewall. A deployed solution (or Internal System) may incur extra costs as the setting up of the system is likely to be done in-house rather than remotely. An installed system may also require more maintenance and support than you're able to provide unless you have a dedicated IT team ready to support it. It is vital your system stays up and running so before you choose this option make sure you have people with the relevant skills available who will be willing to fix problems as soon as they occur.
With a hosted or SaaS (Software as a Service) LMS a lot of the work is taken off your hands, the system runs on someone else's server so you don't have to worry about server load or maintenance. The system will be set up by your provider and they should also take care of backups, or at least offer you a simple interface to schedule your own backups. A hosted service is normally up and running as soon as it’s ordered since the service provider will be used to the procedure. In some cases it can even done automatically by the system upon electronic request. They'll also be able to implement any updates and fixes remotely for you.
A deployed solution will have a greater initial cost as you'll have the software and installation to pay for, but it may be more cost effective in the long run. With a hosted system you'll have less to pay initially, no software purchase costs, no installation fees and limited technical problems but over the years you may end up paying out more than if you'd opted for an installed LMS.
What are content authoring tools and how can we use them?
An e-learning content authoring tool is a software package which developers use to create and package e-learning content deliverable to end users.
A content authoring tool is a software application used to create multimedia content typically for delivery on the World Wide Web. Content-authoring tools may also create content in other file formats so the training can be delivered on a CD (compact disc) or in other formats for various different uses. The category of content-authoring tools includes HTML, Flash, and various types of e-learning authoring tools.”

A lots of programs can be considered authoring tools, including Flash, and PowerPoint. However, only a small group of programs specifically include support for e-learning content standards such as SCORM (Shareable Content Object Reference Model) or AICC (CBT) (Aviation Industry CBT Committee). Examples: Articulate Storyline, Composica, Adobe Authorware and Camtasia.
Synchronous e-learning vs. asynchronous e-learning tools and technologies
In today’s e-learning environment the type of learning that takes place is generally divided into one of two categories: synchronous and asynchronous. Both learning strategies have their own pros and cons, and the technique that is right for a student greatly depends upon their method of absorbing the information that is being provided.
What is synchronous learning?
Examples of synchronous e-learning are online chat and videoconferencing. Any learning tool that is in real-time, such as instant messaging that allows students and teachers to ask and answer questions immediately, is synchronous. Rather than learning on their own, students who participate in synchronous learning courses are able to interact with other students and their teachers during the lesson.
The main benefit of synchronous learning is that it enables students to avoid feelings of isolation since they are in communication with others throughout the learning process. However synchronous learning is not as flexible in terms of time as students would have to set aside a specific time slot in order to attend a live teaching session or online course in real-time. So it may not be ideal for those who already have busy schedules.
What is asynchronous learning?
Asynchronous learning on the other hand can be carried out even when the student or teacher is offline. Coursework and communications delivered via web, email and messages posted on community forums are perfect examples of asynchronous e-learning. In these instances, students will typically complete the lessons on their own and merely use the internet as a support tool rather than venturing online solely for interactive classes.
A student is able to follow the curriculum at their own pace without having to worry about scheduling conflicts. This may be a perfect option for users who enjoy taking their time with each lesson plan in the curriculum and would prefer to research topics on their own. However, those who lack the motivation to do the coursework on their own may find that they do not receive significant benefit from asynchronous learning. Asynchronous learning can also lead to feelings of isolation, as there is no real interactive educational environment.
Ideally, effective e-learning courses should include both asynchronous and synchronous learning activities. This allows students and teachers to benefit from the different delivery formats
regardless of their schedules or preferred learning methods. This approach provides students with access to immediate help if needed, while still giving them the ability to learn at their own pace.
What is SCORM & Tin Can Api?
SCORM, or Shareable Content Object Reference Model, defines a specific way of constructing Learning Management Systems and training content so that they work well with other SCORM conformant systems. Basically, the different versions of SCORM all govern the same two things: packaging content and exchanging data at run-time.
Packaging content determines how a piece of content should be delivered in a physical sense. At the core of SCORM packaging is a document entitled the “imsmanifest”. This file contains every piece of information required by the LMS to import and launch content without human intervention. This file contains XML that describes the structure of a course both from a learner’s perspective and from a physical file system perspective. Questions such as: “Which document should be launched?” and “What is the name of this content?” are answered by this document.
Run-time communication, or data exchange, specifies how the content “talks” to the LMS while the content is actually playing. This is the part of the equation we describe as delivery and tracking. There are two major components to this communication. First, the content has to “find” the LMS. Once the content has found it, it can then communicate through a series of “get” and “set” calls and an associated vocabulary. Conceptually, these are things like “request the learner’s name” and “tell the LMS that the learner scored 95% on this test.” Based on the available SCORM vocabulary, many rich interactive experiences can be communicated to the LMS.
Why should I use SCORM?
SCORM is a really powerful tool for anyone involved in online training. Content can be created one time and used in many different systems and situations without modification. This plug-and-play functionality can be powerful within an organization but even more so across organizations. Content can be sold and delivered to the user more quickly, more efficiently, and at a lower price.
SCORM is widely adopted by huge organizations. It has the critical momentum and is the de facto industry standard. The US Department of Defense has specified that all of its content must be delivered via SCORM. All of it! Industry is following suit, and the standard appears in a vast majority of RFPs to procure both training content and Learning Management Systems.
What is Tin Can?
SCORM was developed over a decade ago now. Times have changed and the requirements of educators have changed, and so Tin Can was developed. Tin Can is an open source API that adds some needed extra functionality to SCORM and lifts many restrictions of older specifications.

The extra features provided by Tin Can include simplicity, extra security measures, the ability to run courses outside the LMS, better support for offline and mobile learning and (potentially) more detailed reporting.
Development of Tin Can is an ongoing project so we should expect more from it in the future.
E-learning tools and technologies used in online training
E-learning makes use of many technologies - some of which have been developed specifically for it, whilst others conveniently complemented the learning process, for example computer games. Communication technologies are also widely used in e-learning. Starting with the use of email and instant messaging, message forums and social networks, we see a plethora of tools that any internet user would use in any case.There are also some technologies that work in a complementary manner to other software and enable new features, for example software that adds a whiteboard on your video conferencing tool to allow you or your peers to make changes on other people’s work for review, or screen-sharing which allows someone to make a presentation while still making comments and giving input using the microphone.

E-learning makes good use of database and CMS (Content Management System) technologies. These two work hand in hand to store your course content, test results and student records. The data is stored in the database and the CMS provides a user interface for you to add, update and delete data. A good LMS will often provide reporting tools to generate and store progress reports.
Elearning tools and technologies used to improve the quality of content are manifold. Software such as Flash and PowerPoint will help you make your presentations slick and interesting, with high quality, graphically rich content. There are word processing packages and HTML editors available these days that make formatting your text or web pages a breeze, removing a lot of the complexity. There are also lots of online services available that you can use to create interactive elements for your courses such as quizzes and games.
The important elements of online learning courses
When creating an online course, a number of criteria must be met to ensure that students receive the benefits they signed up for. Below is a list of important ones:
Consistent instructor presence: the value of feedback

The role of the instructor is very important in the e-learning process because it’s in his hands to encourage, inspire and ensure students don’t feel like they have embarked on the learning trip alone, and also because it will ensure that students will be tracked and given proper feedback which is very important throughout the learning process. To facilitate such a relationship, Learning Management Systems offer options like instant messaging between peers, email and other tools that ensure learner and professor are but a click away from each other.
A streamlined and well-designed LMS
When talking about the success of a LMS, we primarily mean that we want an e-earning site that will be easy to navigate, is well-organized and contains high quality material. Everyday tasks include the distribution of new material and sending, receiving and grading assignments. A well designed LMS will ensure that those tasks are hassle-free and that its users can easily tap into the myriad of features that are an important part of the e-learning process.
Content that is up to par
Aside from the ease and design of your LMS, the next most important thing to keep a student satisfied is the material. The role of the curriculum is to set the tone for an organization to design a successful course and offer both teachers and learners a set of guidelines. So while a system must be well designed and efficient, the quality of the content must be on par with the impression you want the LMS to make in its entirety.
Tested delivery methods
Let’s start with an example: you are running a course on astrophysics and you have found a very interesting video that you feel enhances the points made within the already existing content. Is adding said video to the material the right move?
As with any other website, application or product, compatibility is always a delicate matter. We need to always be sure that the material we post for learners to use is compatible with all the possible web browsers or platforms being used. To avoid discouraging learners, keeping it simple is preferable to overextending ourselves and possibly hitting an incompatibility roadblock.
All of these key elements have the ability to foster a supportive, effective e-learning environment. When all of these essential components are in place, online learning establishments have the ability to not only provide students with the skill sets and knowledge base that they are looking for, but a virtual education platform that helps to contribute to the future success of (and serves as a model of excellence for) the e-learning industry.

Online tests and quizzes
Despite the fact that e-learning lacks the element of physical presence, tests and quizzes are still an essential part of the educational process. Through online tests and quizzes an instructor is able to track the progress of students and assess the effectiveness of the curriculum, while at the same time students have the ability to track their own progress and improve on their skills accordingly.
The importance of tests & quizzes for students in eLearning
Tests and Quizzes play an important role in e-learning and provide an array of benefits for both the learner and the instructor.
Let's first look at how they improve the experience of the instructor.
Less work to be done
Remember school, when tests lasted an hour at a set time of day and the instructor usually had to stay up late to grade them and then write detailed feedback for each and every individual student?
We've already gone through how e-learning alleviates the need for testing to be done at a specific hour, but it also makes testing a hassle-free task as corrections are automated with a LMS. In the cases of "Essay Question" tests, e-learning systems are usually equipped with keyword tracking tools that grade depending on what has been mentioned in the essays. This isn't a fool-proof system but it helps save some time in comparison with long grading sessions.
Unique Tests
Testing and quizzing can be made unique in a LMS by randomizing question and answer order. This is especially useful when a learner has to re-do a test which he/she previously had poor performance on so that the test is not completed by memory, but rather by actually thinking through the correct solution once again. This feature is also useful to produce more variety by using a large pool of questions from which testing can be done, rather than recycling the same questions over and over.
Instant grading and feedback
Grading and giving feedback is probably the most time consuming task for the instructor. It's where the instructor has the ability to comment on the strengths and weaknesses of a learner and enable learning to actually take place! Feedback needs to be good. A LMS will usually allow the instructor to create dynamic feedback depending on the answer a learner will give to a specific question. For instance, in a multiple-choice test if the learner chooses answer B over the correct answer C, the appropriate feedback will be given back to the learner, indicating fault in the thought process, or hints as to why another answer would be more appropriate. This complements point 1 above (i.e.: "Less work to be done") by the instructor because it allows the learner to get instant feedback on a correct/ incorrect answer, and it saves time for the instructor who can take advantage of automated feedback.
In-depth analysis readily available
Tests have to be gathered and graded, and feedback has to be written for the individual learner to take back and improve on particular areas. Learning Management Systems give the instructor even more analysis though. Through a reporting system, a LMS gives the instructor an overview of test scores, progress and growth with graphical representation to make the analysis even easier to grasp especially when the class-size is very large. That way, an instructor has the ability to analyze which students scored highest/ lowest, and which questions were hardest/ easiest for the majority of students. Reporting is a handy tool that allows the instructor to see trends and act upon them to improve the curriculum.
It is also environmentally friendly!
Going from hard-copy tests/ quizzes to offering the same capabilities online reduces consumption of goods such as paper - especially important when the online classroom is large and growing!
Now, let’s see how tests and quizzes improve the experience of the student:
Self-assessment tool
Testing and quizzing online will usually provide the user with results instantly. This is good for students because it allows them to know what they did wrong immediately, what they need to focus on, and how to improve should they have to retake the test.
Keeps learners engaged
Tests and quizzes have always been a motivator to study harder when students know that their progress will be judged upon an exam, a performance review etc. It sets a deadline for when material needs to be learned by and diligent students know they must adhere to that.
Further considerations
The use of different forms of testing, such as multiple choice tests, fill-in-the-blanks, true or false, or essay questions can also be used to assess the progress of students with different learning styles. Catering to the needs of different learning styles is an important aspect of e-learning which gives it the edge over traditional learning models. It is a good idea to use different types of material, and varying types of tests and quizzes to engage everyone in an online class.

An important note on online quizzing and testing is the ability a learner has to research the web for answers and creating tests should be done with that in mind. If something is too hard and/or a little off topic in terms of the material taught, it is likely to be researched online. If the tests are too easy, they will be dismissed and passed over without much being learned. Thus tests should be structured in a way that encourages learners to think back to the material taught within the course rather than looking for answers elsewhere.
How to make e-learning effective and tips to increase it's effectiveness
Anyone may be able to create a simple online course, however increasing the effectiveness of online learning is altogether different. An effective elearning course takes a good deal of time, hard work, and a commitment to high quality content.
Here are some tips that can help you create highly effective e-learning courses regardless of the material or curriculum:
Know your subject material well!
There is no golden rule on how much time you need to put into creating the ideal content, but one thing is certain - you need to take your time to research material before making it available to your learners. The reasons are simple, you want to be prepared to back up any claims made within your course material, not all learners digest information the same way, and some may need more explanation through examples or further proof.

Online courses provided should appeal to all learning styles
The design of the online course should take every learning style into consideration. For example, while one student may benefit from visual multimedia presentations of coursework and lessons, another student may be able to better absorb the information when it is presented in text form. An effective e-learning course always takes these various learning styles into account when the lessons are being created.
Facilitate Contact
Students and teachers should be able to establish an open line of communication. Also, teachers should specify which means of communication they prefer and during which hours. This will ensure that expectations are met and that the student receives the help or support that they need. Also, students should have contact information for the systems IT support staff, and have access to a member of staff on a regular basis if needed. Examples of how students can communicate with their instructors are: discussion forums, social media, chats, email, video conferencing and other VoIP technologies.
Platform should be easy to navigate and fully functional
When designing the site and e-learning platform, ease of navigation and functionality should be top priority. A well organized and intuitive web-based learning platform enables students to focus on the coursework rather than having to sort out technical issues that may arise from poorly designed sites and systems.
Course documents should be available to every student enrolled
Course documents like the syllabus must be available for students to view, particularly at the beginning of the term. This will ensure that the student knows which lessons will be covered throughout the course, and can use the syllabus as a guide throughout the entire course. It provides teachers with an effective road map as well, and helps structure their lesson plans.
Set and communicate clear goals
A point we can't stress enough: one of the reasons teams are unable to achieve goals is not having clear enough guidelines on how to reach them. Part of the curriculum of any course should be what will be done, when it will be done, and what is needed for the successful completion of tasks. It is therefore important that all instructors set and communicate clear goals to their learners in a manner in which they are sure they will understand and will be able to put into action.
What are the best tools to help us create an online course?
If you are considering creating an online course to upload and sell online, the process may not be as challenging as you might think. As a matter of fact, thanks to advancements in modern technology, designing a simple and straightforward e-learning course can be relatively stress-free (as long as you already have a clear concept of what content you'd like to include and a solid core curriculum). Here are a few online tools that can help you to create an e-learning course.
Most people in the online course industry will tend to side with a LMS - especially when new to the scene - because it offers a large array of embedded tools that provide the administrator with the ability to create, curate and enhance content in ways that are more cost-effective than using individual tools would be. Also, the benefits of using a LMS include the all-in-one element which enables the user to create the platform (website) and the content all in the same space without needing special network administration or website management skills. Another attractive feature is the ability of the system to automatically calculate exam results and generate reports which help both instructor and learner.
Website creation platform
There are a variety of free or low-cost website creation platforms online today. Even if you aren't going to be offering strictly online courses (and are planning on providing CD-based courses), creating a high impact website that is easy to navigate and aesthetically appealing can help you to promote your product. For those who are offering online courses, having a well-organized and intuitive website can mean the difference between effective e-learning and a disappointing online learning experience for both teachers and students. There are also a myriad of companies that offer e-learning website design services if you simply don't have the time or know-how to create your own.
Course design tools
Many companies now provide affordable course design tools. These sites enable you to upload the content of your courses and then design effective presentations. There are even free platforms that you can use today. For example, Google now has an e-learning design platform that is free of charge. Even those who are not well versed in coding or course designed can now share their knowledge with the world.
Multimedia production tools
The key to having a truly interactive and engaging e-learning course is using the various multimedia resources that are available today. In our technological age, we now have access to instant streaming video, crystal clear recording capabilities and instant chat support services. Also, you can rely upon a myriad of highly interactive multimedia production tools, such as design software and high definition cameras to record informative courses for your audience. There are even editing tools that give you the power to turn raw footage into a masterpiece in just a matter of minutes.
Online Experience
Furthermore, online learning has revolutionized higher education because of the many advantages it offers. As an online student, you are able to learn at your own pace and time, at a much lower cost.
Michael Aldrich The Michael Aldrich Archive - Internet Online Shopping. Online shopping was invented and pioneered by Michael Aldrich in the UK. In 1979 he connected a modified domestic television via a telephone line to a real- time multi-user transaction processing computer.
site created?
The first secure retail transaction over the Web was either by NetMarket or Internet Shopping Network in 1994. Immediately after, Amazon.com launched its online shopping site in 1995 and eBay was also introduced in 1995.
But studying for your degree online may also raise some questions and concerns. It’s a new and unknown experience, so it is natural to be uncertain about what to expect and how the process will unfold.
While your Student Adviser will walk you through the entire process upfront and will be there to support you every step of the way from first contact to graduation, we also offer the following brief highlights as an introduction to the Online Learning Experience.
Highlights of Online Learning
Your classes will take place in an online environment. You can log in at any time at your convenience. Once online, you’ll communicate with your instructors and fellow students, read assigned texts, access digital materials, post assignments and comment on other students’ assignments. While you’re required to log in at least two separate days each week, you will, of course, benefit greatly from regular and more frequent attendance.
Your online course experience will take place on an advanced learning management system designed to facilitate the optimal learning experience for students. In addition to the educational platform you’ll utilise to communicate with faculty and fellow students, you’ll also have access to e-textbooks offering you the capability to highlight, annotate, create bookmarks, search, download and self-assess.
Each module is carefully planned to align with an expectation of the depth and breadth of study required to achieve an award at a given level. In accordance with international agreements, each award is expressed as a number of credits to make the achievement transportable and transparent to future employers and other institutions of higher education. In planning the learning activities within each programme, there is an expectation that the average student will dedicate approximately ten hours of total study time to achieve 1 ‘credit’ (this approximation includes all preparatory work, reading, writing, assessment tasks, time spent communicating in discussion forums or attending virtual seminars and workshops). As an example, a candidate participating in a 20 credit module which lasts eight weeks could be expected to devote an average of 25 hours of study time each week (200 hours total) in order to achieve the learning outcomes of the module and complete the assessments. Whilst there is no hard and fast rule on this (for example, each candidate will have a unique profile in terms of the time it will take them to read  and understand learning materials, or complete written work), the following list of tasks may help you to understand the time commitment necessary to successfully complete your programme:
Within a typical module, candidates will be required each week to:
Plan their study time according to the weekly plan of activities set out in the module and guided by the instructor.
Read case-study and background materials from e-books and other sources.
Participate in discussion fora, reading contributions, making contributions and responding to particular questions .
Prepare formative tasks that have been set up (for example, submit a draft response to a question for feedback)
Prepare written assignments and submit them by a deadline for formal marking and feedback (typically this is not a weekly task but may be required, normally at the end of a module)
Reflect on your learning and feedback your experience of the module to your instructors and peer group
Similar to a campus classroom, the online learning experience will include extensive participation and interaction with faculty and fellow students. You’ll also use the online forum to communicate with advisers, teaching assistants and instructional specialists.
Once you have successfully completed your degree, you will be eligible to participate at one of two annual graduation ceremonies at the University of South Wales.
Module sequences begin each month, so you can enroll and begin your degree programme, immediately putting you that much closer to your graduation.
You’ll take one module at a time. This advanced learning method designed for adults allows you to concentrate your entire focus on one subject area before moving onto the next, while also allowing you to earn your degree in an accelerated time frame.                       
Distance Learning Has Been Around Since 1892, You Big MOOC
James Marshall Crotty, CONTRIBUTOR
Nov 14, 2012 11:46 AM 11,134
As noted in my pieces on MITx, edX, Udacity and other Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) platforms,  online education is driving today’s higher education revolution. Though the flurry of attention around MOOCs may lead one to conclude that distance learning is a recent phenomenon, it actually dates back over 120 years.
According to a team of Ph.D’s and NASA scientists assembled by Post University, distance learning began in 1892 when the University of Chicago created the first college-level distance learning program. Expanding from this initial use of the U.S. Postal Service for course correspondence, distance education moved towards live radio shows in 1921 and then televised broadcasts in 1963.
In 1970, Coastline Community College became the first college without a physical campus, offering exclusively televised college courses. Many other schools followed Coastline’s lead with televised courses of their own. And, in 1985,  National Technological University became the first school to offer online degree courses via satellite transmission.
In the 1990s and 2000s, distance learning over the Internet became the dominant remote learning craze. As more schools embraced online education, smaller, less well-known colleges and for-profit universities drove further innovation in the online education space.  For instance, in 1993, Jones International University became the first fully online university accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. And, in 2002, MIT launched its popular OpenCourseWare initiative.
Babson Research Survey Group and College Board estimate that in the fall of 2010 6.1 million students took at least one online education course. In addition, according to Babson and College Board, 65 percent of higher education institutions say online education is now a critical part of their long-term strategy.
However, what has really blown the virtual lid of online education numbers was the 2011 introduction of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). As noted in a previous Crotty on Education column, in the fall of 2011  Stanford University Professor, Sebastian Thrun, launched a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on artificial intelligence that attracted more than 160,000 students. Thrun’s success inspired other universities — such as Princeton, Penn and the University of Michigan — to join the Stanford MOOC fiesta.
Now a full-blown race to become the dominant MOOC is well underway, with Coursera, World Education University, Udacity, edX and many others competing for critical mass and first-mover advantage.
With the tremendous increase of students participating in MOOCs and sundry online courses, distance learners are forced to become even more self-directed, engaged, and collaborative than ever before. As educational technology and students inevitably evolve, distance learning design will need to evolve as well.

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On the other hand, online education is nothing new, but the technology is relatively new. However, the concept is over 170 years old and has its origins in a correspondence course offered in Great Britain where the instructor sent lessons and received students’ completed assignments by mail. Distance learning was born, and today’s online courses are modern versions of their humble predecessors. Online education overcomes the biggest drawback of correspondence courses, mail transit time, and allows students to interact not only with the instructor but the other students in the class in real time.

In summary
Online programs allow flexibility so that someome can work full-time and take classes at your own pace.



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