Online Learning Timeline


PLATO Developed at University of Illinois, 1960.
PLATO (Programmed Logic for Automatic Teaching Operations) was the first computer assisted instruction system. It was widely used starting in the early 1970s, with more than 1000 terminals worldwide. PLATO was originally built by the University of Illinois and ran in four decades, offering elementary through university coursework to UIUC students, local schools, and more than a dozen universities. PLATO pioneered key concepts such as online forums and message boards, online testing, email, chat rooms, picture languages, instant messaging, remote screen sharing, and multi-player online educational games.

R. Buckminster Fuller publishes Education Automation (1962)
Relevant quote: "Get the most comprehensive generalized computer setup with network connections to process the documentaries that your faculty and graduate-student teams will manufacture objectively from the subjective gleanings of your vast new world- and universe-ranging student probers." (p.85)

Founding of the Internet (1969)
US DoD commissions ARPANET. Hobbes Timeline



1971 - Ivan Illich's Learning Web
Ivan Illich describes a computer-based education network in his book Deschooling Society

1979 - USENET begins
USENET established using UUCP between Duke and UNC by Tom Truscott, Jim Ellis, and Steve Bellovin. All original groups were under net.* hierarchy. Hobbes Timeline



Computer Assisted Learning Center (CALC)
The Computer Assisted Learning Center (CALC) was founded in 1982 in Rindge, New Hampshire, as a small, offline computer-based, adult learning center. The center was based on the same premise as today: to provide affordable, quality instruction to individual learners through the use of computers. Origins of CALCampus

CSILE, an educational knowledge media system, developed by Scardamalia & Bereiter at Ontario Institute for Studies in Education in 1984. ... CSILE based on Zimmerman's (1989) self-regulated learning (CSILE term is intentional learning) and constructivists' view of learning. It emphasizes on building a classroom culture supportive of active knowledge construction that can extend individual intentional learning to the group level. The purpose is to make students think and reflect their thought process which provoke question asking and answering in a public forum. The ultimate goal is to get students involved in knowledge itself rather than improve one's mind, a World 3 view , which shifts from individual mastery learning to improve the quality of public collective knowledge (Scardamalia, et al., 1994). - from [1]
1987 - M/EU (Mind Extension University)

In 1987, Jones launched M/EU, a cable channel carrying varied educational programming... The advent of the Internet helped facilitate communication in these telecourses.[2]

Aviation Industry CBT (Computer-Based Training) Committee (AICC)
The AICC was formed in 1988 out of a need for hardware standardization of CBT delivery platforms. Important milestones include: 1989 - Common platform guidelines for CBT delivery (AGR-002), 1992 - A DOS-based digital audio guideline (AGR-003) before the advent of window multimedia standards. The guideline enabled end-users to use one audio card for multiple vendors' CBT courseware. Due to the huge amount of CBT legacy courseware, this guideline is still in use., 1993 - A guideline for CMI (LMS) interoperability was created. This guideline (AGR-006) resulted in the CMI systems that are able to share data with LAN-based CBT courseware from multiple vendors. 1996 - A navigation icon guideline (AGR-009) to help standardize the student user controls in CBT. 1998 - The CMI (LMS) specifications were updated to include web-based CBT (or WBT). This new web-based guideline is called AGR-010. 1999 - The CMI (LMS) specifications were updated to include a JavaScript API interface. (This the basis of the SCORM runtime environment). 2005 - The Package Exchange Notification Services (PENS) guideline (AGR-011) allows Authoring/Content Management system to seemless integrate publishing with LMS systems. [3]



1992 - CAPA (Computer Assisted Personalized Approach)

The system was developed at Michigan State University and was first used in a small (92 student) physics class in the Fall of 1992.[4]
1994 - Lotus Development Corporation acquires the Human Interest Group

The system evolves into the Lotus Learning Management System and Lotus Virtual Classroom, now owned by IBM.
1994 - Open University Virtual Summer School


In August and September 1994, a Virtual Summer School (VSS) for Open University undergraduate course D309 Cognitive Psychology enabled students to attend an experimental version of summer school 'electronically', i.e. from their own homes using a computer and a modem. VSS students were able to participate in group discussions, run experiments, obtain one-to-one tuition, listen to lectures, ask questions, participate as subjects in experiments, conduct literature searches, browse original journal publications, work in project teams, undertake statistical analyses, prepare and submit nicely formatted individual or joint written work, prepare plenary session presentations, and even socialize and chit-chat, all without ever leaving their homes.
1994/95 -

CALCampus was the first to develop and implement the concept of a totally online-based school through which administration, real-time classroom instruction, and materials were provided, originating with the QuantumLink campus. This was a significant departure from earlier methods of distance education because no longer was the individual distance learner isolated from the teacher and from classmates. Origins of CALCampus

1995 - Mallard web-based course management system developed at the University of Illinois

Mallard web-based course management system developed at the University of Illinois.[8][9] Mallard allows for multiple roles. For example, a graduate stiudent can be an instructor in one course and a student in another.

NIcenet ICA Launched
to the public (1995)

CourseInfo Releases Interactive Learning Network (later to be known as Blackboard) (1997)
This learning application, originally called the "Interactive Learning Network" was developed at Cornell University by the CourseInfo team. The product was installed at several academic institutions including Cornell University, Yale Medical School and University of Pittsburgh. The ILN was the first e-learning system of it's kind to leverage and install on top of a relational database MySqL. [11] Course info would later merge with Blackboard, Inc. and ILN would be subsequently released as Blackboard CourseInfo

WebCT Released
1997 - WebCT 1.0 was released




2000 - Claroline project was initiated

The Claroline project was initiated in 2000 at the Catholic University of Louvain (Belgium) by Thomas De Praetere and was financially supported by the Louvain Foundation.

dates and credits
2000 - Manhattan 1.0 is released

In October of 2000, Manhattan Virtual Campus was released in its entirety on the Internet for free under the GNU General Public License.

2001, November - runs Moodle

See this announcement
2002 Multiple Events

* August - Moodle 1.0 is released
* Summer - Seque Project releases first version of its elearning software
* September - Site@School released

2004, January - Sakai Project is formed from several college and university projects
2006, June - Moodle 1.6 is released
2006, July 26 - Blackboard announces Patent 6,988,138

This patent, filed on June 30, 2000 (with pending and related applications dating as early as June 1999) and issued on January 17, 2006, contains very extensive claims pertaining to every aspect of online course delivery. The breadth of this patent would seemingly give Blackboard the ability to enforce this intellectual property against other producers of online course delivery systems.


Available under GNU Public Documentatio License

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Distance Education Timeline -

Moodle site -

History of the internet -




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