A History Of Online Schools

Lisa R. Parker

Nursing students, when you’re pursuing that online LPN to RN degree or taking some online continuing education classes,

have you ever stopped to think how far education has come since the development of the world wide web?

Online degree programs are everywhere. We’ve started to take them for granted, and it feels as if they’ve been here forever.

However, the fact is, 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. It was a private for-profit college developed to serve the needs of non-traditional students. Sperling saw that regular colleges were already serving the needs of all those students who just graduated from high school and were going to college with the help of their parents – but who was addressing the needs of working professionals who might already have a degree but wanted a career change, or who had day jobs and needed a career-oriented education with classes at times they could actually attend?

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 people 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 literally hundreds of thousands of students attending the University of Phoenix online, and they have programs for Licensed Vocational (or Practical) Nurse to Registered Nurse, LPN to BSN, RN to BSN, and many other healthcare classes.

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 – and so do all online students – to the innovative vision of Dr. John Sperling.

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