Remember when there was no internet?

I recently celebrated my 15th anniversary working in credential evaluation and comparative education. While that may seem like an eternity in some fields, I am still considered a “freshman” at ECE.  Some of the original employees are still here, from when the company began more than 40 years ago.  For those aware of modern history, that would be before the existence of the internet!

In light of COVID-19’s dramatic changes across many industries, I wondered what “pivots” our field had experienced prior to the pandemic. This led me to investigate the ways increased technology and student mobility have had a positive impact on international education. I asked some of the folks at ECE with even more tenure than myself what they remembered about the “good ol’ days” of credential evaluation before the internet was an option.  Here are their responses, in no particular order:

Monitor, Binary, Binary System, Computer, Binary Code

Remember when…

Meetings were in person.

Like many of you, I miss having meetings in-person as opposed to virtually.  As the pandemic seems to be slowing in some parts of the world, things may be returning to a sense of “normal” once again.  However, certain aspects may never revert to how they were “before.” Many meetings have now moved to an online platform.  One benefit to this change is that they can be much more inclusive and collaborative, and easily include colleagues from different regions and time zones.

There was no such thing as a “digital document.”

Digital documents!!! What are those???

The myriad of ways documents can be delivered now include email, student portals, online sites, and more.  Not to mention the actual documents.  No more paper being sent via the postal service. You can now receive scratchcard results, secure PDFs and blockchain documents.  Secure transcripts and grade reports can be printed almost instantly these days!

Verification requests were sent via snail mail.

Similar to the shift in document delivery, verification options have also progressed over the past 20 years.  The “seniors” in the field can remember such great security features as “the sniff test”. This involved immediately suspecting a document to be fake if it was “printed” a long time ago, but failed to smell “old.” Without the internet, the only way to confirm the authenticity of documents involved photocopies, the post office, and if you were lucky, a fax machine! A QR code you could check with your smartphone...practically science fiction when I started at ECE.

Google Translate didn’t exist.

I have enough seniority in the field to remember this personally.  When I first started doing credential evaluation, dictionaries were all you had to rely on.  There was no “translate website” option in Chrome, and once Google Translate came on the scene, the only languages supported were Spanish, French, and English. I am thankful that even languages beyond those with the Latin alphabet are now available!

You used a book to find school accreditation.

Never heard of a school before?  Head to the library and flip through the AIU or the International Handbook of Universities. Imagine having to look up the address of a school in a hardcover book.  No websites because there was no internet! School recognition was discovered exclusively via printed resources.

It took weeks, not days, to complete a report.

ECE currently completes a report within 5 business days. Prior to the internet, this was not possible. 

Based on research completed via hard copy publications, reports being typed with Word, and the only delivery option the postal service, reports were promised out within a month after receiving all the necessary documents.  If you failed to submit the proper documents upfront, a hard copy of a documentation request would be mailed to you.  This could delay the process by weeks, so one report might take up to six months to complete.  

Before the internet, it was common to want to enroll for the Fall semester, but be delayed until Spring! Now a report can be completed from start to finish in as little as 24 hours.  Just imagine what changes the next decade will bring to our field!

Google, Search Engine, Browser, Search, Internet, Www

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Melissa Ganiere is a Research & Knowledge Management Evaluator and has been with ECE® since 2006.  She specializes in education from Sub-Saharan Africa and South East Asia, along with refugee documentation and online verification. 




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