Distance learning presented new challenges for student affairs organizations with traditional roots in developing strong interpersonal ties with students. First attempts at working with students through an electronic medium came as a result of the need to find more efficient ways of registering students for courses. Early in the 1960s, various forms of IBM-style punch cards were used at large universities to register students for courses. This cumbersome system of sorting computer cards migrated into stand-alone terminals where operators used computerized systems to register students for classes.

The problem with both of these processes was that they were inefficient and forced students to stand in lines to register for courses. Paper records were still maintained, and the system still had data-entry problems. To eliminate the lines, ...

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