1. New Demands on Universities
In a time of profound technological and social change, in a time passing
from industrial to information age, in a time of an ongoing process of
commercialization of all areas of life, the traditional structures and
methods of teaching will have to change tooóAlter the foundations
of the university, and the whole system will stumble. Or to speak with
Eli Noam (1995): "Change the technology and economics, and the institutions
must change, eventually."
Restructuring of education seems unavoidable. It is not only invoked
by scarce state economies. Enterprises as the main later employers are
calling for a more professional and practical education too. Practical
in an information age usually means that workers are computer literate,
techno-savvy, and that they know their way around the Internet. Otherwise
the frequently invoked "life-long-learning" does not seem to
be realizable in enterprises. Additionally, such a training on the job
is getting more and more important in a world of high-speed production
of information, to keep pace with the fast development of computer hardware
that ñ according to the law of Gordon Moore ñ seems to double
its performance every 18 months. And therefore not only Peter Denning (1996)
is demanding new "business designs for the new university".
Studies have shown that a normal employee in his/her career has to acquire
two or even three times the amount of knowledge that he/she gathered in
his primary education. This is the reason why also enterprises themselves
raise the question upon the effectiveness of forms of further training.
Additionally, enterprises would prefer forms in which training could be
settled "by the way": They would appreciate, if knowledge and
skills would be "delivered" just-in-time, right in the moment
when they are needed by a decision maker, over the Internet or CD-ROM.
The theme is widespread and can often be found in advertising for institutions
concentrated on distance learning: "You learn while you earn"
(selfpromotion of the Distance Education and Training Councils 1996)
2. Virtualization or Realization -- Alternative University Models
Right at the moment, educational institutions all over the world try
to cope with this task in two general ways: a first group of institutions
bets on continuation and prolongation of the classical attempt of distance
learning. Other universities and training institutions see their chances
and the future in a mix of traditional and hypermedial teaching and learning
methods. Offers in this sector are spreading all around the globe, mainly
in the United States and in Canada, but also to an increasing extent in
Australia, South Africa, and in Europe. To gain an overview of all these
offers is a hard task. But there certainly are common traits in the diversity.
So we can differentiate between two basic models :
2.1 It's all and only Virtual (Single Mode)
In this model, the student will never enter the university by his own
feet; the Internet is classroom, campus, library, and cafeteria all in
one. Only the canteen and "aprés study-life" in "real"
bars still hardly is to mirror purely virtual. In the best case, all stops
of the technological possibilities will be pulled out by using Internet
Relay Chat, graphic or texture based Multi User Dungeons or MOOs, or java-scripted
online questionnaires. But be carefulóa "cool" designed
homepage does not host a didactically well designed curriculum in the realm
of distance education, inevitably. And some of the final degrees offered,
indeed distinguish themselves by fantastic names, but not that much by
their practical usability or their reputation in later professional life.
All in all, these purely "virtual universities" still are
relatively seldom. In Germany, besides some smaller institutions, only
the "Fernuniversität Hagen" (http://www.fernuni-hagen.de/),
which is in the business of distance learning since quite a long time,
offers courses of study as a purely virtual institution. Some of its courses
are working quite traditionally with mailed papers and books, but others
are accessible over the Internet too. In the United States the "Virtual
Online University"ófounded after the boom of the Internet in
1995óplaced itself in the same sector and protected itself the meaningful
domain name "Athena".
More frequently to find are subordinations of this model, in which a
"real" and probably well known university or college offers additional
virtual courses. Even in this case, it is often not necessary to visit
the university building at all. But most of the universities engaged in
this model, call in their students for exams at least, like the City-University
in Seattle (http://www.cityu.edu),
or even for selections. This is true for an otherwise purely virtual institution
in Hongkong, that luckily has protected itself the domain name "online.edu" and now cooperates with
some "real" universities from all over the world, for example
with the University of Paisley in Scotland.
Extensive offers "out of beta" you are also supposed to find
at the Canadian Athabasca University (http://www.athabascau.ca/)
with more than 46 online courses, at the Algonquin University (http://www.algonquinc.on.ca/distance/e-mail.html),
which is "located" in Canada too, and is specialized on courses
in economics and computer science, at the University of Phoenix (http://www.phoenix.edu), at the University
of Kansas (http://www.cc.ukans.edu/),
or at the University of Arizona (http://www.cmi.arizona.edu/).
Just to be sure, most of these courses are only open to students from North
Grown to quite a large institution in the realm of online education
is the University of South Africa (http://www.unisa.ac.za/)
on the African continent. In Europe, the "Open University" in
does it's name great credit and offers facilities for online studying,
but mostly single classes without a possibility to gain a full degree.
In Germany, a lot of universities have their virtual courses under construction
too. But really "marketable" and in series production are only
a few of them. Well represented are, above all, courses in economics or
computer science, for example at the Universität des Saarlandes (http://lehre2000.iwi.uni-sb.de/)
or at the Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (http://www.wi1.uni-erlangen.de/wi1.html).
To make the variety of all these offers a bit more transparent, unions
of individual universities with emphasis on online education, as well as
councils or simple indexes in the World Wide Web have been founded. The
Electronic University Network (http://www.wcc-eun.com/index.html)
is such a kind of a union of many, mainly US-based colleges that opens
up a choice between 32 possible degrees and about 300 coursesófrom
"Agriculture" to "Metaphysics", to "Women in the
Workplace" for eager distance students. Also an important list function
occupies the Global Network Academy (http://uu-gna.mit.edu:8001/uu-gna/),
that records more than 10 000 courses with online education in its index.
Who has not found what he/she is looking for yet, can find further lists
and indexes, as well as many linkpages at the Adult Distance Education's
Surf Shack (http://www.helix.net/~jmtaylor/edsurf.html),
at the Internet University-Guide (http://www.caso.com/),
or at indexes, that are searchable by countries, at the University of Kansas
and at the Distance Education and Training Council (http://www.detc.org/).
An extensive analysis, both in these superordinated lists, as well as
at the homepages of the different universities and colleges is highly recommended
, because almost all offers are covered with highly varying study fees,
and further commercialization of the sector of online education seems to
be well underway. The highly reputated Duke University School of Business
in Fuqua, Texas, charges 82,500 Dollar for its Global Executive online
MBA-program, that attracts many foreign students. But the same program
costs "only" 50,000 Dollars if the student comes to Texas and
conventionally follows the course. Bargaining in the net can become a difficult
task for other reasons as wellóyou have to calculate with loading
sessions, and also study fees often seems to be hidden well on many sites.
And even if the costs are mentioned, you will have to take a sharp look
at your calculator. The Australian Correspondence Schools (http://www.qldnet.com.au/acs/)
tell you on their website that they charge 30 Dollars for each exam. Sounds
all right, doesn't it? But if you continue reading you will discover that
you have to pass 21 of these examinations for a final degree. Besides,
they charge an additional "distance fee" for european students
of 125 Dollars for each exam: altogether, this sums up to 3255 Dollar ñ
if one passes each exam at first time.
With a smaller budget one normally gets along in courses offered in
America. Prices for training classes, that are listed in the Electronic
University Network (http://www.wcc.eun-com/index.html)
move from 150 Dollars at the Brevard Community College to almost 1000 Dollars
at the Heriot-Watt Universityóall prices naturally are subjects
to change and given without assurance.
2.2 The Add-on- or More-Quality-Model (Dual Mode)
In the add-on-model, the possibilities of hyperlearning and multimedia
(for communication, simulation and cognition) are integrated into normal
courses in "real" universities. Aim is to link traditional and
virtual learning (and teaching) methods complementary, as well as a connection
of physical and virtual learning places: experts are coming into the classroom
by videoconferencing over the Internet, or are tuned in via ISDN. Experts,
that can broaden the knowledge of the students with intercultural and hand-on
experiences about , for example, advertising in different cultures or about
the difficulties of self-employence in varied countries. Two-hour video-lectures
with one single, soporific camera angle, that the student has to download
at own "risk", stay outside these curricula.
Instead, the Internet is used for the prolongation of seminar discussion,
and for providing a deeper insight into class materials. Hyperlinked summaries
and links for further reading help to integrate the cognitive advantages
of hyperlearning into the curriculum, students can talk to their teachers
per E-mail or in Chat-session. But they do not have to miss personal communication
in the classroom ñ neither with their teacher, nor ñ perhaps
even more important ñ the informal talk with their colleagues.
The philosophy of the add-on-model is basically experienced within european
projects of online education. The symbiosis between virtual and traditional
teaching is practiced, for example, at the Virtual College Berlin Brandenburg
or at the Donau-Universität Krems (http://www.tim.donau-uni.ac.at/Lgtele/).
In these examples too, the trend is running towards charging additional
study fees. And again, there is a wide field of choices: about 20,000 DM
one must pay for two terms of an upgrading course in telematic management
at the Donau-Universität Krems. Anyone more interested in the systematic
research of information and communication technology can explore this field
at the Technische Universität Chemnitz (http://www.tu-chemnitz.de/home/iuk/aufb-inf-kom-sys.html)
after a remittance of 3000 DM for a two-year course.
3. Competition for the University: Education Goes on the Market
The employment of hyperlearning in its different forms and models seems
to be already pushing the traditional concept of education to new directions.
Perhaps it even can impart knowledge better according to the social and
economical demands in the long run (what has to be proven first). "Yet
to conclude that the global academic village is all gain and no pain ...
would be naive" (Noam 1995). As hyperlearning and distance education
make possible an almost "perfect" and total virtualization of
teaching institutions, all the way is opened up for publishers, telecoms,
or media giants to an education market, that is been recognized as very
lucrative by more and more corporations: "Software companies may well
become competitors of universities" (Casper 1995). Virtualization
of universities and teaching institutions seems to fit perfectly with the
commercialization and privatization of the educational sector. Or as Perelman
(1993) puts itóthe "free market" in the educational sector
will become "the greatest business opportunity since Rockefeller found
oil". Therefore universities should be aware of the new competition.
It is time to look for niches in an uprising market and to rethink the
role of university for society. Should studying become more and more expensive
in the future? How can the main tasks of the university ñ the creating,
conserving and teaching of knowledge ñ be performed in an information
age, and under market conditions? These are questions universities as well
as society have to face right now.
Denning, Peter J. (1996): Business Designs for The New University.
In: Educom Review 6/1996 (http://www.educom.edu/web/pubs/review/reviewArticles/31620.html).
Krempl, Stefan (1997): Die virtuelle Zukunft der Universität.
Zukunft für die Universität? In: Schröder, Hartmut/Gerhard
Wazel (eds.) (1997): Fremdsprachenlernen und interaktive Medien. München
(forthcoming, online at http://viadrina.euv-frankfurt-o.de/~sk/Virtual-College/ZukUni1.html)
Krempl, Stefan/Hartmut Schröder (1997): Virtual College
ñ neue Lehrformen im Praxistest. In: Mediengestützte wissenschaftliche
Weiterbildung. Erfahrungen und Perspektiven beruflicher Bildung und Weiterbildung.
Fachpublikation des Arbeitskreises Hochschule und Weiterbildung e.V. in
Zusammenarbeit mit Zentralstelle für Weiterbildung der TU Braunschweig.
Noam, Eli (1995): Electronics and the Dim Future of the University.
Science, Volume 270/October 1995, 247-249 (http://www.ctr.columbia.edu/vi/papers/citinoa3.htm).
Perelman, Lewis J. (1993): Hyperlearning. Would you send your
Kid to a Soviet Collective? In: Wired 1/1993 (http://www.wired.com/wired/1.1/features/hyperlearning.html).