This album was created by a member of the TPS Teachers Network, a professional social media network for educators, funded by a grant from the Library of Congress. For more information, visit tpsteachersnetwork.org.

Distance Learning History

Album Description

As many students experience online learning for the first time during the pandemic they might like to take a look at  the history of distance learning by exploring primary sources.

Originally called  correspondence courses as described in the Inside Adams Science Technology and Business blog post Distance education: Re-imagining an Old Solution to a Modern Problem they’ll get a unique look at how technology and availability has shaped the experience.  And of course learning doesn’t just have to be formal.  Many have used technology to add to their body of knowledge and skills without being directed by a facilitator or teacher.

Inspired by the images in the Picture This Library of Congress Prints and Photos blog post Listen Up! A Look at Distance Learning this album contains some of those images and others that might give students a perspective on distance learning and changes over time.

As your students analyze the photos and do further research they might brainstorm around the following topics:

  • Formal or informal learning
  • Distance learning audience or recipients
  • Tools and techniques
  • Advantages/disadvantages
  • Accessibility
  • Effectiveness of the learning
  • Types of content, skill or information provided

Or other questions/topics they might have as they study the topic.

Next they can reflect on how effective their own distance learning has been in reaching their own learning targets while using technology to learn from home.

[Sesame Street character Big Bird, standing with Representative Claude Harris, his staff member Ann Stritzinger and another woman]

Reference note

Contributor Names: Keating, Maureen, photographer
Created / Published: [5 March 1991]
Subject Headings: -  Harris, Claude,--1940-1994
-  Big Bird (Fictitious character)--1990-2000
-  Legislators--Washington (D.C.)--1990-2000
Genre: Group portraits--1990-2000
Portrait photographs--1990-2000
Film negatives--1990-2000
Notes: -  Title devised by Library staff.
-  Date from caption information for contact sheet ROLL CALL-1991-130 or corresponding negative sleeve.
-  Contact sheet available for reference purposes: ROLL CALL-1991-130, no. 29A/30.
-  Contact sheet or negative sleeve caption: "Big Bird on Capitol Hill".
-  Forms part of: CQ Roll Call Photograph Collection.
Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.print
Digital Id: ppmsca 38865 //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.38865

Little Rock, Ark. Attempts to reopen schools

Reference note

Summary: Photograph shows three pajama-clad white girls being educated via television during the period that the Little Rock schools were closed to avoid integration.
Contributor Names: O'Halloran, Thomas J., photographer
Created / Published: 1958 Sept.
Subject Headings: -  School integration--Arkansas--Little Rock--1950-1960
-  Children--Arkansas--Little Rock--1950-1960
-  Television--Arkansas--Little Rock--1950-1960
Notes: -  Title from contact sheet folder caption.
-  U.S. News & World Report Magazine Photograph Collection.
-  Contact sheet available for reference purposes.
Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA
Digital Id: ppmsca 03125 //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.03125

Little Rock, [Arkansas]. Filming high school classes

Reference note

Summary: Photograph shows an African American high school girl being educated via television during the period that the Little Rock schools were closed to avoid integration.
Contributor Names: O'Halloran, Thomas J., photographer
Created / Published: 1958 Sept.
Subject Headings: -  African Americans--Civil rights--Arkansas--Little Rock--1950-1960
-  African Americans--Education--Arkansas--Little Rock--1950-1960
-  School integration--Arkansas--Little Rock--1950-1960
-  Children--Arkansas--Little Rock--1950-1960
-  Television--Arkansas--Little Rock--1950-1960
Notes: -  Title from contact sheet folder caption.
-  U.S. News & World Report Magazine Photograph Collection.
-  Contact sheet available for reference purposes.
Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA
Digital Id: ppmsca 03124 //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.03124

Little Rock, Ark., re: anti-integration story. Classes on TV, after school closings

Reference note

Summary: Photograph shows a pajama-clad white boy being educated via television during the period that the Little Rock schools were closed to avoid integration.
Contributor Names: O'Halloran, Thomas J., photographer
Created / Published: 1958 Sept.
Subject Headings: -  School integration--Arkansas--Little Rock--1950-1960
-  Children--Education--Arkansas--Little Rock--1950-1960
-  Television--Arkansas--Little Rock--1950-1960
Notes: -  Title from contact sheet folder caption.
-  U.S. News & World Report Magazine Photograph Collection.
-  Contact sheet available for reference purposes.
Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA
Digital Id: ppmsca 03092 //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.03092

George Hutton, Jr., working on his homemade electric plant. Hutton took a correspondence course in electricity and has almost completely electrified all of his father's farm. Pie Town, New Mexico

Reference note

Contributor Names: Lee, Russell, 1903-1986, photographer
Created / Published: 1940 June.
Subject Headings: -  United States--New Mexico--Catron County--Pie Town
Genre: Safety film negatives
Notes: -  Title and other information from caption card.
-  Transfer; United States. Office of War Information. Overseas Picture Division. Washington Division; 1944.
-  More information about the FSA/OWI Collection is available at http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.fsaowi
-  Temp. note: usf34batch4
-  Film copy on SIS roll 24, frame 1585.
Repository: Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.print
Digital Id: fsa 8b25333 //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/fsa.8b25333

[W. A. Rockefeller, full-length portrait, seated, facing left, reading International Correspondence Course text book]

Reference note

Created / Published: c1919.
Subject Headings: -  Rockefeller, W. A
-  Reading--1910-1920
Notes: -  J235567 U.S. Copyright Office.
Digital Id: cph 3b39663 //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3b39663

Starts School For Marines

Master Harold Shaver of Jersey City learns to draw by listening in to lessons broadcast by WOR

Reference note

Creator(s): Rosenfeld, Morris, 1884-1968, photographer
Date Created/Published: c1924.
Summary: Photograph shows young boy, listening to radio, sitting in front of easel drawing a picture.
Call Number: SSF - Radio and Radio Broadcasting -- 1924 [item] [P&P]
Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.print
Notes: Copyright 1924 by Morris Rosenfeld, New York. No. 18884. Title from item.
Subjects: Shaver, Harold. WOR (Radio station : New York, N.Y.)--1920-1930. Radios--New Jersey--Jersey City--1920-1930. Radio broadcasting--New Jersey--Jersey City--1920-1930. Children's art--New Jersey--Jersey City--1920-1930. Art education--New Jersey--Jersey City--1920-1930. Teaching--New Jersey--Jersey City--1920-1930.

[Boy listening to radio set and reading book]

Reference note

Date Created/Published: [c1909]
Call Number: SSF - Radio and radio broadcasting--1909 [item] [P&P]
Notes: Copyright by Underwood & Underwood. No. 117322.
Subjects: Radios--1900-1910. Boys--1900-1910. Reading--1900-1910.

American School of the Air

Reference note

Creator(s): Harris & Ewing, photographer
Date Created/Published: [1932]
Call Number: LC-H2- B-5071 [P&P]
Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.print
Notes: Title from unverified caption data on negative or negative sleeve. Date based on date of negatives in same range. Gift; Harris & Ewing, Inc. 1955. General information about the Harris & Ewing Collection is available at http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.hec Temp. note: Batch seven.
Subjects: United States.

[Family group listening to radio?]

Reference note

Creator(s): Harris & Ewing, photographer
Date Created/Published: [between 1921 and 1929]
Call Number: LC-H234- A-9968 [P&P]
Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.print
Notes: Title devised by Library staff. Date based on date of negatives in same range. Gift; Harris & Ewing, Inc. 1955. General information about the Harris & Ewing Collection is available at http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.hec Temp. note: Batch eight.
Subjects: United States.

[Boy holding receiver to ear, listening to a radio]

Reference note

Date Created/Published: 1909.
Call Number: SSF - Radio and Radio Broadcasting--1909 [item] [P&P]
Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.print
Notes: Photo by Underwood & Underwood. No. 117338. Title devised by Library staff.
Subjects: Boys--1900-1910. Radios--1900-1910. Radio broadcasting--1900-1910.

The bedtime story

Reference note

Date Created/Published: c1923 Feb. 15.
Summary: Girl with headphones on listening to radio.
Call Number: ART REPRO - Gutmann [item] [P&P]
Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA
Notes: K172705 U.S. Copyright Office Reproduction of painting copyrighted by Gutmann & Gutmann, N.Y. No. 712. This record contains unverified data from caption card. Caption card tracings: Radio; Children; Publ. Ind.

Spanish-American girl who is learning English with the aid of blackboard instruction. Chamisal, New Mexico

Teaching Notes

I often wonder how my former foreign language teaching colleagues are coping with distance learning. In a content area so dependent on direct communication skills such as mouth movements, where to place the tongue for correct pronunciation, facial expressions, body language - skills that masks or Zoom screens may hide from view - what are the learning losses? 

The little girl in this photograph is learning with a home instructional aid - a blackboard! Is this ordinary homework, or is it evidence of distance learning? What are the downsides of distance learning through history?  

Reference note

Contributor Names: Lee, Russell, 1903-1986, photographer
Created / Published: 1940 July.
Subject Headings: -  United States--New Mexico--Taos County--Chamisal
Genre: Safety film negatives
Notes: -  Title and other information from caption card.
-  Transfer; United States. Office of War Information. Overseas Picture Division. Washington Division; 1944.
-  More information about the FSA/OWI Collection is available at http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.fsaowi
-  Temp. note: usf34batch4
-  Film copy on SIS roll 24, frame 1876.
Repository: Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.print
Digital Id: fsa 8b25614 //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/fsa.8b25614

GCRP in Sikkim

Reference note

Summary: Photograph shows children seated at table outdoors, using "teaching machines" (record players and headphones), Sikkim.
Contributor Names: Kandell, Alice S., photographer
Created / Published: [between 1965 and 1979]
Subject Headings: -  Schoolchildren--India--Sikkim--1960-1980
-  Teaching--India--Sikkim--1960-1980
-  Phonographs--India--Sikkim--1960-1980
Notes: -  Title from item.
-  Caption on related photograph (LOT 14032-6, no. 218): "Teaching machines used by children in Sikkim. Machines are just being introduced into this country now by Grollier [Grolier] & Co. The Queen brought them to Sikkim this Fall."
-  Forms part of: Dr. Alice S. Kandell Collection of Sikkim Photographs (Library of Congress).
-  Gift; Dr. Alice S. Kandell; 2010; (DLC/PP-2010:106).
Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.print
Digital Id: ppmsca 30932 //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.30932