The early introduction of Distance Education in the late 19th Century was introduced as Correspondence Study. This has evolved through the innovation of technology and communications.
“Correspondence Study… one of the many ways higher education innovated to meet the needs of the Industrial Revolution. Throughout the twentieth century, distance education embraced new technologies spawned other innovations, such as the open university movement. However, the introduction of the World Wide Web in the mid-1990s stimulated what has become a transformation not only in distance education but also in higher education generally. With its ability to provide access and innovate with teaching methods online, e-learning has greatly expanded the range of undergraduate and graduate degree programs that can be taught at a distance. It has also been embraced by many new colleges and universities that had no previous involvement in distance education. At the same time, the impact of e-learning is also being felt on traditional campus-based programs, blurring the traditional distinctions between distance education and resident education.
This transformation has required that distance education leaders develop new leadership skills that will allow them to innovate successfully in the mainstream of their institutions.”