The Chronicle of Higher Ed takes us to a time in the past, when massive radio correspondence courses were the wave of the future, including at my alma mater, Kansas State: “Before MOOCs: ‘Colleges of the Air’”.
Finally, even when students endured the isolation and passivity of this new mode of learning, conquered the temptations of popular radio programs, and finished a course, it wasnt clear what that meant. Students in Kansas States radio classes received certificates verifying they had participated in the college of the air, but these were not the same as real diplomas. Other colleges tried to make the classes count for university credit: Between 1923 and 1940, 13 institutions offered courses for credit, and nearly 10,000 students enrolled. But a mere 17 percent actually received credit, and by the 1940-41 academic year, there was only one radio course in the United States for which a student could earn creditand nobody enrolled in it.
Things have changed technologically, of course, which brings distance education within the learning patterns of more and more students. In my one course, starting in January, already as many students are signed up as the entire number that enrolled for credit in these 1930’s radio courses nationwide. We won’t be offering credit in this go-round, but that landscape is also changing rapidly.