Home-study courses are not a new innovation. They have been around for decades and have been dispersed in a variety of forms for students.

As technology evolves, so do the courses, providing an evolution of educational material. That evolution has made the learning experience easier and more convenient for students and teachers.

These days, smartphones, tablets and laptop computers have replaced overhead projectors as classroom, and home classroom, tools. In addition, the Internet has changed how materials are delivered to students, including live video streaming and other online learning modules.

Long gone are the days of distance learning with little to no interaction with instructors. A high-speed Internet connection puts you in the classroom.

Correspondence learning

Correspondence learning dates back nearly three centuries. The way most recognize the process is when a student orders a course in a particular subject and submits the materials for an instructor review. The courses, which utilized books, study guides and exams, were mailed between teachers and students.

The courses, much like today’s courses, were completely self-driven. But unlike today’s capabilities and connectivity, there was little-to-no interaction between the teacher and student.

For students who lived in rural areas, that translated into a way to get an education or learn a trade without having to travel long distances.

Telephone-based study

The next significant evolution of home-study courses was the telephone. The new way of taking classes was typically aimed at teaching the sick, who could not attend classes at a given institution. The telephone allowed homebound students to interact with teachers and their peers through an early form of conference call, where the students and teacher were all on one line and could speak with one another.

Television broadcasts

Television provided a new technological jump in home-study courses. Here, teachers could broadcast their classes and lectures through the TV.

Live lecture broadcasts at many colleges and universities were offered, so working students could catch their classes at home during the evening and weekends.

While some of the courses offered required students to be physically present for their exams, others continued to allow students to do their coursework at home and mail in their completed materials for credit.

Learning through VHS

In the 1980s, teachers and instructors quickly learned to utilize taped classes for students who wanted to study at home. Colleges also began stockpiling copies of these classes on campus where students could check them out of the school library.

One of the advantages of the taped classes was that students could pause and rewind the lectures to review the material they might not have understood.