Internet distance education is a natural consequence of fin de siecle industrial transformations from a manufacturing economy, in which standard educational practices are based, to an information economy, in which greater autonomy, collaboration, flexibility and a project orientation to work are the norm. The Internet did not cause changes in education, but rather enabled educators to meet new demands for instructional practices and outcomes and adapt to a rapidly changing economic and social environment that was beginning to outpace the academy. Today, just as 100 years ago, educational institutions and practices are modeled on prevailing industrial examples of work and organization. This is especially the case in the United States where an overriding intended effect of formal education is to prepare students to fill roles within the prevailing economic system. Against this backdrop, it is only those components of education that reflect and reinforce the prevailing industrial system that are incorporated into the technology known as formal education. Components of education such as teaching machines and distance learning existed throughout the 20th century but never became standard educational practice until fairly recently because they were not acceptable in terms of preparing students to enter the prevailing industrial system.