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Who Invented E-Learning?

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In a mix of business and the classroom, Blackboard Inc. has been awarded a patent for the software that delivers its e-learning products. But many in the growing online education community say the company didn’t create the techniques used to help students feel at home in a virtual classroom. Those who object to the patent are registering their disapproval in a very electronic way: by online petitions and contributing to a long Wikipedia entry tracing the rise of virtual learning all the way back to 1945. Posted on CNN. You can also check out the Wikipedia entry on the history of virtual learning environments.

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I was somewhat surprised to read in the CNN article that Blackboard Inc. had been granted a patent for “the software that delivers its e-learning products” (AP, 2006). If one can equate the term e-learning to distance learning, then Larry Cuban (2006) may have found an early example of distance learning. Cuban (2006) found a photographic example of a teacher presenting a geography lesson to a group of Los Angeles students from an airplane, thus “… viewing urban geography firsthand …” (pp. 1 & 8).

Associated Press. (2006). Who invented e-learning computing? [Electronic Version]. Retrieved September 9, 2006 from http://www.cnn.com.
Cuban, L. (1986). Teachers and machines: The classroom use of technology since 1920. New York: Teachers College, Columbia University.

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