Texas Tech University

History of eLearning at Texas Tech

TTU Flying Profs
Five Texas Tech professors who participated in the extension school's "flying teacher" program were Dr. James H. Lawrence, Dr. A. G. Oberg, Dr. Richard A. Dudek, Dr. H. R. Heichelheim and Dr. Donald J. Helmers.
Image source: 1966-67 La Ventana Yearbook

In 1966, four Texas Tech University "Flying Professors" started delivering a Master of Engineering program in Borger, Pampa and Midland to 78 students. The attached article from the 1966-1967 La Ventana yearbook describes this groundbreaking program which was the precursor for the Western Information Network (WIN). WIN was established in 1967 to deliver programs by closed circuit television among 18 institutions in West Texas.

The first authorization to deliver instruction at an off-campus site was in 1971. Land in Kimble county near Junction was transferred from Texas A&M to Texas Tech for academic use.
In 1993 Texas Tech received authority to add videotape technology for the Master of Engineering.

Texas Tech University's first official Distance Learning authority was approval of the Master of Education in Educational Technology program in 1996.

Kaitlin Bain, a reporter for Texas Tech's Daily Toreador newspaper, wrote an in-depth article about the "Flying Professors," interviewing Milton Smith, one of the Flying Professors from the late 1960s. Read more here


  • 1965 – 59th Session of Texas Legislature establishes the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB).

  • 1966 – Four Texas Tech University "Flying Professors" start delivering a Master of Engineering program in Borger, Pampa and Midland. 58 students participated in the Borger-Pampa area and 20 in the Midland-Odessa area. The program was extended to Amarillo in 1967.

  • 1967 – 60th Session of Texas Legislature passes HB692 establishing the Western Information Network (closed circuit television) among 18 educational institutions in West Texas with Coordinating Board oversight and administrative offices housed at Texas Tech.

  • 1971 – 62nd Session of Texas Legislature passes HB1323 transferring land and facilities near Junction in Kimble County from Texas A&M to Texas Technical College and repealing Article 2615d, Revised Civil Statutes of Texas, 1925, revised.

  • 1972 – Texas Tech University begins face-to-face delivery of Master of Art Education courses during the summer at Junction.

  • 1993 – the Master of Engineering program is approved by THECB to "include use of videotape technology in its currently approved instructional telecommunications plan." Documents indicate the program was approved for prior telecommunications delivery in 1985.

  • 1995 – 74th Session of Texas Legislature passes HB85 directing THECB to formulate a "Distance Learning Master Plan".

  • 1996 – THECB approves the Texas Tech University "program in Distance Education leading to the existing Master of Education (MEd) degree with a major in Instructional Technology."

  • 2003 – Texas Tech University seeks official approval of the Master of Art Education being delivered during the summer in Junction. Documents state that program delivery started in 1972 with first graduates in 1977.