International Correspondence Schools
|Founded||London (UK 1890, US (incorporated) 1901)|
|Headquarters||Glasgow, Scotland, UK, Canada, USA|
|Products||Distance Learning Courses|
International Correspondence Schools, also known as ICS Learn and ICS, is an educational institute established in 1890 that provides correspondence and distance learning courses. The US branch of ICS has recently been renamed to Penn Foster Career School, although ICS still works under its original name in the UK and Canada.
ICS offers over 150 courses covering subjects such as business, child care, construction, IT systems, Web design, project management, education, and hospitality management. Penn Foster College offers degrees in business, health care, criminal justice, paralegal studies, graphic design, technology and engineering, fire science, construction, interior design, veterinary technology, and early childhood education; it also offers professional qualifications offered in association with professional institutes.
Enrollment in ICS courses grew explosively in the 1890s. Originally founded in Scranton, Pennsylvania, in 1888 to provide training for immigrant coal miners eager to qualify as state mine inspectors or foremen, it enrolled 2500 new students in 1894, leaping to 72,000 new students in 1895. By 1906 total enrollments reached 900,000. The growth was due to sending out complete textbooks instead of single lessons, and the use of 1200 aggressive in-person salesmen. By 1916 it was spending $2 million a year on magazine advertising. The dropout rates were high; only one in six made it past the first third of the material in a course. Only 2.6% of students who began a course finished it. The students dropped out because they overestimated the difficulty, had little encouragement, and had poor study habits. There was a stark contrast in pedagogy:
- "The regular technical school or college aims to educate a man broadly; our aim, on the contrary, is to educate him only along some particular line. The college demands that a student shall have certain educational qualifications to enter it, and that all students study for approximately the same length of time, and when they have finished their courses they are supposed to be qualified to enter any one of a number of branches in some particular profession. We, on the contrary, are aiming to make our courses fit the particular needs of the student who takes them."
Most courses provided by ICS are supplied via paper-based learning materials that consist of several units that students complete as they progress through the course. Once a student has completed a module he or she is then sent the next module.
Courses are now being developed that are supplied via new media, such as a new ethical hacking course that is pre-loaded on an iPod and an information technology course that is pre-loaded on a laptop.
ICS Learn works with professional bodies and institutions to offer industry qualifications such as the following:
- Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development
- Chartered Institute of Marketing
- Chartered Institute of Management Accountants
- Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply
- Business And Technology Education Council (BTEC) courses
- Joseph F. Kett, Pursuit of Knowledge Under Difficulties: From Self-Improvement to Adult Education in America (1996) pp 236-8
- J.J. Clark, "The Correspondence School--Its Relation to Technical Education and Some of Its Results," Science (1906) 24#611 pp 327-8, 332, 333. Clark was manager of the school's text-book department.
- Clark, "The Correspondence School" (1906) p 329
- Clark, J.J. "The Correspondence School--Its Relation to Technical Education and Some of Its Results," Science (1906) 24#611 pp. 327-334 in JSTOR
- textbooks published by ICS; complete texts