The History of Correspondence Colleges
The concept of distance learning started as far back as the early 1700s, when teachers would put in advertisements in their local papers looking for students to whom they could teach the lessons and new technologies of the day to. These first ideas of distance learning would require either the teacher to see the student or vice versa, until the first major colleges and universities appeared.
The first school to offer correspondence courses was the University of London in 1858, and was soon followed by other schools in England and the United States. Beginning in the 1930's, Professor Charles Wedemeyer of the University of Wisconsin-Madison would use the radio stations and systems at school in order to broadcast English lessons, creating the first type of correspondence-education system for soldiers deployed overseas during World War II.
When Wedemeyer became the director of the correspondence program, he and his students conducted a number of studies to evaluate students taking distance courses. He predicted that students would probably no longer take classes inside a classroom, but that the classroom would no doubt go to them. Wedemeyer is often credited as the father of the modern correspondence and distance education for his work.
Distance learning saw a boom from the beginning with the invention of the postal service, only to grow as radio, television, DVDs, computers, and the Internet became popular.