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Friday, November 25, 2011

Correspondence schools

You may remember them, the schools that advertised in magazines, comic books, matchbook covers. The ones that told you that you could be an artist, or gun smith, or lock smith, or private eye...

All you had to do was send away for their course work. The premise was; if you can read, you can learn a trade. You didn't really require the feedback of an instructor, or supervision during study.

Of course, there were also technical schools, that offered enrollment in branch campuses (often office spaces or store fronts). You might not get a degree, but you'd be certified in a trade.

And then, things changed......

At first, it was simply the VHS tape. Courses of instruction lectures could be recorded for viewing at home, or to supplement the instructor in class. Audio recordings allowed lectures to follow anywhere a cassette or CD player could be carried. Then, the personal computer entered the picture...

The University of Phoenix was the big breakthrough of this change, taking the spotlight of a new form of correspondence. Learning via internet video, telepresence in class rooms. Another breakthrough was the CD course. Rosetta Stone taught language, other CDs taught computer skills using an interactive powerpoint presentation.

Others began to see the market for this new method of education... Old institutions like colleges and universities began to allow a virtual auditing of courses. You might not get accreditation for the work, but you'd be able to prepare for the actual courses by listening to lectures, seeing the syllabuses.

Other technical schools fell in line, adopting computers to the classrooms. Continuing education became a diversity of options, to better meet and adapt to the student's personal requirements of time and place...

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