The Historic Precursor to Online Learning and Instructional Design

Learning is as old as human civilization. As humans evolved so did the need to acquire skills needed to make life comfortable within limited means available. The discovery of fire or the wheel were not solo acts of just a few humans but a collective effort by many. Knowledge was traditionally passed down through generations, mostly by word of the mouth. Some of the oldest recorded civilizations discovered the use of written word as is evidenced by clay tablets, coins, metal medallions discovered by archeologists. In short, learning determined the advancement made by humans in their growth both during prehistoric times or through the period of evolution recorded as history.

Instructional design started long before it was formalised with teachers thinking about how to better empower their students

Traditionally, in olden days, learning was imparted by Gurus or spiritual teachers in their Gurukuls where students would live in close proximity to the teacher and learn multiple subjects including those in spiritual domain. This practice gave way to formal learning and advent of schools where youngsters were grouped by age and had teachers to impart education in varied subjects as per a set curriculum. The schools were organized to some extent by governmental diktat or in many cases on the fundamental ethos supported by the sponsors.  The   system evolved into a kind of means to propagate ideas, way of life and religion. The Christian missionaries designed their curriculum with the primary aim of propagating Christianity and the gospel. The close rivalry saw advent of Hindu Gurukuls or Islamic seminaries.

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