Would it surprise you to know that the concept of distance learning has been around a lot longer than the internet? Although the recent pandemic has helped promote the practice of distance learning through online coursework, people have been learning new skills and gaining new insights through structured curriculums at a distance for centuries.
In fact, according to Nationaltoday.com, Caleb Phillips was advertising teaching for a new method of shorthand in the Boston Gazette in 1728, with lessons to be mailed to students every week. Later, in the 1840s, Sir Isaac Pitman had his shorthand students return proof of their work on postcards. From there, it was only a matter of time before correspondence schools were popping up all over the world so people in remote areas, or otherwise unable to attend a local school, could obtain a high-quality education and pursue brighter futures.
Today, according to a Nationaltoday.com survey, 35% of students worldwide have taken at least one distance-learning course, and 16.6% conduct all of their studies through distance learning.
At University of Arkansas Grantham, our history of educational excellence has its roots in learning opportunities through distance education programs. In 1951, World War II veteran Donald Grantham founded the Grantham Radio License School in Los Angeles, Calif., to help returning soldiers take advantage of the educational benefits of the G.I. Bill® of Rights. Soon, the school would change its name to the Grantham School of Electronics, expand its offerings, and open campuses across the U.S. in Washington D.C., Missouri, Virginia, and Florida.
Then, in the 60s, Grantham began offering correspondence courses and earning accreditation by the Distance Education and Training Council, now known as the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC). Later that decade, the school would go through another transition, consolidating campuses into one location and offering courses as a hybrid campus-based/correspondence school known as the Grantham College of Engineering. In 1976, residential operations ceased entirely, and completely focused on distance education by regular mail.
As the years and decades went by, technology caught up to the needs of distance learners, offering a faster, and more responsive way to learn and earn a degree online. Grantham College of Engineering was on the leading-edge of online learning, offering degree programs for students around the world via the internet as early as the 90s from its location in Slidell, La. In 2002, the college would change its name to Grantham University, add a business school, and expand its online degree offerings and capabilities.
These capabilities were tested in 2005 following the destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina throughout the region. All but one building of the university’s campus was destroyed, prompting a pre-mature relocation to Kansas City, Mo. As staff, administrators, and faculty moved to Kansas City, the online learning hardly missed a beat.
Due to the nature of online learning and the dedication of its employees, Grantham was able to continue to provide students the career-building education they needed to better their lives.
To this day, with the strength and support of our recent merger with the University of Arkansas System, UA Grantham is well positioned to continue providing the high-quality distance education our students deserve. That will never change. In fact, we are dedicated to continuing pioneer innovations in distance learning.
“We are committed to ensuring our students have access to the life-changing education they need to succeed in life,” says Lindsay Bridgeman, UA Grantham Chancellor. “And we are equally committed providing the support they need to succeed in class. As newer distance-learning technologies continue to emerge, we will be there on the forefront, blazing the way to innovation, quality, and learning success.”
Today and every day, but especially on August 31, you are invited to join us in celebrating the difference distance learning can make in all our lives. Then, a couple of weeks later, you can join us again as we celebrate National Online Learning Day.
Of course, the perfect way to truly appreciate the freedom, flexibility, and quality of a career-building online education is by signing up for an online degree program at UA Grantham. You can learn more about our history, our mission to put students first, and our programs the same way you take our classes—online.
Already a veteran of online learning? Share with us your distance learning experiences by tagging us at #UAGrantham.