Distance education in the United States has been around since the early 1800s, and the discussion of its legitimacy has been around for just as long. Supporters say distance education is a much needed form of educational delivery, offering access to higher education for those who would traditionally not have it. They claim it has aided in the expansion of higher education and has forced the development of new delivery methods that are innovative and paradigm shifting. With a rise in the use of technology as a means of educational delivery, opportunities to solidify these supportive claims are abundant. Much literature has been published on the history of distance education as well as its benefits and limitations. However, not much has been written about employers' perceptions of distance education, including online education. This review of the existing literature begins by defining distance education and demonstrating its increased use within higher education institutions, highlighting distance education's metamorphosis into online education. It then provides viewpoints on both the positive and negative aspects of distance education, including online education. Finally, it presents past sociological literature on the impact of educational attainment on employability and showcases literature on employers' perceptions of distance and online education. (Gillespie, 1996)
History of Distance Education
Distance education is defined as the separation of teacher and learner with some form of educational media used to unite the two during the learning process. Although it may seem like distance education began with the onset of the electronic age, its first occurrence was much earlier. It started in the United States as early as the 1800s when the University of Chicago introduced the first major correspondence program based on the fact that the teacher and learner were in different locations.
Anna Ticknor created a home study program in 1873 designed to provide educational opportunities for women of all classes of society. Later, in 1883, Cornell University established a Correspondence University. Unfortunately, it never officially opened for business (Nasseh). The first legally recognized correspondence course operated from 1883 to 1891 and was founded by the Chautauqua College of Liberal Arts. The college was authorized by the state of New York to provide degree programs to students who attended its summer institute or who took correspondence during the regular school year (Nasseh). By World War I, over 12 universities had correspondence instruction programs, including Pennsylvania State College, Baylor University, and the University of Wisconsin.( Levenson, 2001)
During the period between 1910 and 1920, visual instruction methods, including lantern slides and motion pictures were added to the curriculum (Nasseh). "In the years between the World Wars (1918-1946), the federal government granted radio broadcasting licenses to 202 colleges, universities, and school boards". This caused the use of radio as a method of educational delivery to gain strength, particularly between the years of 1925 to 1935. “Schools of the Air” were established at the University of Wisconsin, Kansas University, the University of Michigan, and the University ...