How Did Online Schools Start? A Brief History

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Published: 26th November 2010
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You may be one of the thousands of nursing students currently pursuing that online LPN to RN degree or taking some online continuing education classes. But have you ever stopped to think how far education has come since the development of the world wide web?

Nowadays, online degree programs are so commonplace that people tend to forget that they haven't always been around. In reality though, online degree programs have only been in existence for about a decade and a half.

And one of the earliest innovators in the online education field is a Cambridge-educated professor turned entrepreneur named Dr. John Sperling. Sperling, now a billionaire, founded the University of Phoenix in 1976. Established as a private for-profit college, the university was designed specifically to cater to non-traditional students.

Sperling realized that students fresh out of high school who had the financial support of their parents were already served by the regular colleges around, but what of those who were already holding jobs to support themselves or their families? Or those who already had degrees, worked full time, yet felt they still needed a career change? They would need classes that were scheduled differently than traditional schooling.

The University of Phoenix offered night classes and other educational solutions for working adults. And as the internet began to grow in popularity and sophistication, Sperling saw another way for education to be made achievable and convenient for individuals who were already working for a living but wanted something more.

And in 1989 one of the very first online campuses in the world was created through the University of Phoenix; in 1991, the Online Campus graduated its first class.

Now, there are practically hundreds of thousands of students attending the University of Phoenix online, and they have programs for LPN to RN, LPN to BSN, RN to BSN, and many other classes geared toward the nursing industry. And there are, of course, dozens of other online schools that offer many of these online nursing programs these days.

But they owe a lot of their current success, as do all online students, to the vision and innovation of Dr. John Sperling.

Now that you know how online schools got their start, you may want to find out what online nursing programs are available and which online nursing schools have these programs. Visit our site at to get this information and more!

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