Distance Learning is Here to Stay

We often hear distance learning and online learning described in fairly negative ways –

  • Online learning courses are not as good as face to face courses
  • Distance learning courses are the new kids on the block. It’s better to study with organisations that have been around for a while.

Etc etc.

But this is simply not true.


The COVID-19 pandemic really made online and distance learning jump to the forefront. Many adults and children were not able to attend their schools, colleges, universities and other educational establishments. 

Suddenly  their learning was online. 

Suddenly  we saw all these new courses online.

How far from the truth that was!


Online and Distance Learning Students Were Around Before the Pandemic

Many students have been studying successfully by distance learning or online for years. It is estimated that over 220 million students worldwide are now studying online.  Ok, you are probably saying now, “yes, but that was due to covid.”  The pandemic did have a massive impact, but online and distance learning was growing rapidly prior to the pandemic.

  • Between 2016 to 2019, there was a 34% increase in online students.
  • Between 2012 and 2019, traditional physical universities increased their online and hybrid students by 32% on average.

So online and distance learning was growing before the COVID-19 pandemic.


Distance Learning Courses are Not “New” Either

Online and distance learning courses are not new either.   

  • The first correspondence course was actually developed in 1728 by Caleb Philipps in Boston, USA. He advertised weekly mailed lessons.
  • Sir Isaac Pitman is often seen as the father of distance learning, by offering his shorthand courses through the post a century later in the 1840s.
  • In 1858, the University of London started offering distance learning degrees and here is where distance learning really expanded.

So distance learning is hardly “new.” Correspondence courses have been around for more centuries, longer than many physical universities and education providers.

Studying at home has obviously developed a great deal since 1728.


A Smaller World

The world has become a smaller place. It is easier to travel across the world. It is also easier to communicate with others. We do not need to study through the post anymore, though this is still available with many education providers.  We can also study online and by e-learning. E-learning is electronic learning, so basically any learning we do electronically, such as studying online, on a course on a USB, by email etc.

World Changes

Changes in the world affected how people learn. The COVID-19 pandemic is an obvious and recent example, but there were also other changes prior to this.

  • Many countries, such as South Africa, the United States and Australia introduced distance learning programmes to meet the needs of their rural communities in the early 20th
  • Organisations, such as the army, created educational programmes for staff working abroad in World War II and afterwards.

The Open University, founded by Harold Wilson’s Labour government in 1969, was the first institution dedicated exclusively to providing distance learning, and vastly altered UK higher education. Learning materials were delivered primarily through television and radio broadcasts, and resonated with post-experience adults who had not previously considered their education.



Changes in technology also led to changes in education.

  • The University of Wisconsin first used the term “distance learning” and offered recorded lectured in 1906.
  • In 1969, in the UK, the Open University expanded distance learning education to many students. Their educational offerings also included radio and film.
  • Broadcasters, such as the BBC in the UK and NBC in America offered radio, and then TV broadcasts to students.

Then, of course, along came the internet and that really did change everything. Suddenly, anyone with access to the internet in their home or library or school could access their education. The first online course came in 1985 and online and distance learning courses have continued to grow ever since.


Massive Industry!

The online education industry is now a massive industry.

It is estimated that 4/10 businesses now use online learning to train their staff.

The online education industry is currently worth $11.3 billion and is expected to grow to $33.5 billion in the next three years.

And as we already said, over 220 million students are currently studying online.


Where Does ACS Distance Education Fit In?

Many education providers began offering online and distance learning when the COVID-19 pandemic started.

  • They may have been new to education.
  • They may have been traditional providers who recognised that they needed to offer online courses to meet the needs of their students.

There were also the education providers who had already been at the sharp end of online and distance learning from the start. Honing their education provision and services for decades.

That just about sums up ACS Distance Education.

We were established in 1979 with one correspondence course.

Over the course of the four decades, we have –

  • Moved into e-courses and online courses.
  • Now offer over 700 courses
  • Offer over 150 eBooks
  • Focus entirely on online and distance learning

It can be hard to offer physical learning and online learning. That’s why we decided right from the start to focus on distance learning.   We develop our courses specifically for those students who want to study at home.

We are experts in distance learning and online learning.


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What our clients say

We've been working with ACS over the course of the last three years. Being able to mix and match content to suit our students' needs has been extremely useful. With their material in combination with our own in house tutor service we have been able to provide a complete online learning service which has helped us expand our student cohort and advance our teaching techniques! We are thankful that we have had them as a partner throughout our time in the industry and look forward to many more years of growth together.

Jason T - Director, ACS Partner College (Affiliate)

ACS Distance Education have been fantastic to work with over our first 12 months as a start-up online short education affiliate.
They provided immense support in the foundation period ensuring we setup the best support mechanisms for students and engaging quality tutors.
ACS have continued to be receptive to feedback and promptly moved to make improvements wherever required.

David C - Director, ACS Partner College (Affiliate)

Having access to ACS' extensive library of digitalised education content has allowed us to scale our business quickly and efficiently. Their LMS is easy to access and manage, whilst also providing the consumer (student) with a professional and easy to use experience. John and Kate have always been a pleasure to work with and are quick to provide support when it is required."

Andrew O - Director, ACS Partner College (Affiliate)

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