Bridge Hall

History of Online Learning

History of Online Learning

Cassette TapesEducators at Marshall were using technology to enhance learning since before the digital age. In the 1980s, some classes offered “distance learning,” and sent cassette tapes of lectures to enrolled students.

Later, in the 1990s, Marshall built its own “Capture Room” which had the ability to live-stream classes to students, as well as to record lectures and classroom activities which were then made available for students to view on their own time.

As the technology improved, the possibilities grew.

With the goal of creating a top-ranked online MBA program, Marshall School leadership appointed a task force which thoroughly investigated industry recommendations and input from faculty, and a decision was made to invest heavily in online education as the way of the future.

“We found really committed people,” said task force lead John Matsusaka, Charles F. Sexton Chair in American Enterprise and professor of finance and business economics said. “We hired instructional designers specifically for this and told them, ‘You are full partners in this enterprise.’ We brought in technical people to signal that we were serious.”

On Air
Recording For Class

In 2014 the Marshall School built a state-of-the-art production studio in its downtown Los Angeles office space, where professors, working with professional producers and instructional designers, could create interactive lectures that engage and challenge today’s online students.

“Nobody wants to watch two hours of a professor lecturing behind his or her lectern,” said Jerry Whitfield, Associate Director for Online Learning at USC Marshall. “We approached it like radio and TV people. And we worked hand-in-hand with the instructional designers and the professors. Like a classroom lecture with a good outcome, a good, structured online course is just a different way to communicate the same message.”

Beth Wellman was the one of the first such professionals to join Marshall’s online team. Armed with a Ed.D. in educational psychology, learning and instruction, and a long career as a high-school STEM-subject teacher with an obsession for using technology to improve student outcomes, she was a true believer in the possibilities of online education.

Before joining Marshall, she taught in USC’s Rossier School of Education, in both its classroom and online environments.

“I studied the student outcomes and it just proved to me what I had long suspected: online learning can be just as robust, just as academically challenging and in some cases even more so, than its residential counterpart.”Beth Wellman, Ed.D/Educational Psychology, Marshall Online Learning Team Instructional Designer