eLearning Then and Now: A Brief Guide Into the History of Online Learning

Nowadays, learning is accessible to everyone and comes in many shapes and kinds, including the digital form. But it has not always been like that. After the outbreak of Covid-19, millions of students and professionals …


Nowadays, learning is accessible to everyone and comes in many shapes and kinds, including the digital form. But it has not always been like that. After the outbreak of Covid-19, millions of students and professionals all over the world were forced to experience eLearning due to the global lockdown and inability to attend their schools and training courses physically. This has given a massive rise to online learning as more people have discovered its value and benefits. And we expect this trend to grow larger in the future.

But where did it all begin?

The concept of eLearning has been around for only a few decades. Nevertheless, its history is quite rich and intense. In this article, an expert in learning from DoMyEssay, a writing service where students can write my essay paper with best authors in USA, is going to share the timetable of the eLearning evolution. Let’s dive in!

The Pre-eLearning Era

Today, when every student can use the web to find an essay writing services review by NoCramming, along with millions of other things, or take an educational course over the weekend, it is hard to imagine that there were times when the Internet and computers weren’t a part of the educational process. But although learning has always been there in one form or another, the concept of eLearning couldn’t appear on its own because it required certain technology to be possible. So, we are going to start discovering the history of this concept starting from the pre-eLearning times.

The first mechanical computer was designed back in 1822. Since then, the concept and technology behind it have been shaping and changing. But this process wasn’t too quick. Eventually, the first modern electronic digital computer was built only in 1942. But it still didn’t provide the tech stack needed to reveal the concept of eLearning.

The real breakthrough was made in 1984. That’s when the leader in tech, Apple, introduced its first Macintosh computer. This computer had better graphical and test support. And it also featured a free HyperCard program that allowed teachers to create educational materials, courses, and learning games. This software revolutionized the industry and gave birth to the concept of eLearning.

Discovering the Concept of eLearning

After the first Apple Macintosh presentation, the evolution of computers, and later eLearning, was gaining momentum.

During the early and mid-90s, all tech leaders were focused on developing a multimedia PC. These PCs came with CD-ROM drives to allow users to display video synced with audio on their computers. During the same time, another tech giant, Microsoft, released its famous Powerpoint software. The progress was rapid, and it was taking off the learning barriers, taking us closer to the discovery of the eLearning concept.

According to records, the first schools to deliver online-only courses were established in the early 90s. That’s when the Internet became recognized as an education medium. However, the term for this appeared a bit later.

The term eLearning was first used in November 1999 by Elliott Masie at the TechLearn Conference at Disneyworld. Although it was the first mention of the word “eLearning,” there were other terms before this. Namely, the terms “virtual learning” or “online learning” appeared before this conference in 1999. However, Elliott Masie was the first to use this concept in a professional context. Thus, his term gained popularity very quickly.

eLearning in the 21st Century

Today, twenty years after Elliot Masie invented the term eLearning, its meaning hasn’t changed. We still define this term to describe the process of learning that leverages the Internet or other digital mediums. And it is still there to give students an opportunity to study remotely.

However, everything else has changed a lot.

After the creation of the first Macintosh and the discovery of the term eLearning, the field of online learning has been expanding and advancing rapidly. There have been several major events from the 2000s to this day.

First of all, in the 2000s, there was the so-called Dot Com Boom. This basically means that the Internet has become mainstream. As a result, the bandwidth increased, making the Internet connections much more high-speed. During the same time, many companies started leveraging eLearning for corporate training purposes.

Later, in 2004, Web 2.0 was introduced to the world. Unlike Web 1.0, which was a read-only environment, Web 2.0 offered users the possibility to have a two-way interaction with the Internet. It meant that users now could communicate, collaborate, and create platforms like blogs, social media, etc. This event changed the way we can interact with eLearning content.

Then there were a few other massive events, including:

  • 2005 – The rise of Flash;
  • 2008 – The start of Mobile Web;
  • 2010 – The rise of HTML5;
  • 2013 – The release of Tin Cap API.


Each of these technological breakthroughs has significantly impacted the development of eLearning into the form we know it today. After decades of evolution, it is an advanced industry that keeps gaining momentum. Every year, it becomes more and more accessible and attractive to learners. And we can’t wait to see how else it can transform in the future!

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