Historical User Profiles

Distance Education Pioneers

Sir Issac Pittman - English inventor of shorthand, credited with inventing correspondence courses by mail in 1840.

Von Pittman - first encountered distance education during the 1960's taking correspondence courses by radio while in the US Navy. Pittman went on to become a major influence on the success of distance education programs at Washington State University and the University of Iowa.

John P. Witherspoon - is credited with having a hand in a variety of ventures that helped move distance education move from correspondence courses to respectable academic endeavors. He has written several books on distance education and currently serves on the faculty of the Western Cooperative's Institute for the Management of Distance Education. (7)


William Rainey Harper (1856-1906)
is a pioneer in both education and distance education. He is most known for helping establish and serving as the first president of the University of Chicago. He implemented the First University extension program in the United States at the University of Chicago. (7, 12)


Historical Student Profile

Early students of distance education consisted largely of students located in rural or remote areas that did not have geographical access to educational institutions. Another major population of distance learners were members of the military. "The use of correspondence courses increased significantly after World War II when many veterans hurried to complete the education they had missed while in the service." (14).