History of Distance Learning Infographic
- 1840 - The first distance learning program was Sir Isaac Pitman’s shorthand course.
- 1858 - University of London was the first to offer distance learning degrees. The term "distance education" was included in a pamphlet from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
- 1995 - The first course was delivered online by Penn State University.
- 1999 - Millions of students' worldwide study via distance education.
- Now - The term eLearning is coined.
Fraud in History of Distance Learning
As technology has continued to make it easier for both organizations and students to participate in distance learning, there are steps that need to be taken to combat instances of fraud. In addition to cheating on classwork and exams that are administered, fraud rings have targeted financial aid applications in order to take out loans meant for legitimate students. In fact, in 2011, the Office of the Inspector General examined eight schools who had disbursed nearly $222 million in financial aid to more than 42,000 distance education students who did not earn any academic credits during the payment period.
What should institutions do?
There are a number of steps that institutions can take to avoid this, including:
- Re-examine the cost of attendance for distance learning students and approve disbursements for educational expenses only
- Split federal funding into smaller amounts
- Clearly define “attendance” and adjust Pell Grants for students who attend only some of the courses in which they enroll
- Establish robust identity verification and fraud prevention processes
Online proctoring of exams and advanced identity verification will ensure that financial aid applicants and students participating in online courses are who they claim to be. Knowledge-based authentication/out-of-wallet questions that only the student would know helps establish identity and deters fraud in online education and distance learning. There are also other technology solutions, such as facial recognition, that are extremely beneficial in preventing cheating.