THE FUTURE OF HIGHER
(All chapters are intended for continuing revision)
Volume I - Chapter Seven
(Last updated June 18, 2008.) In Chinese following the bibliography
A GLOBAL MULTI-CULTURAL (LIFELONG) VIRTUAL UNIVERSITY
The traditional university--that offers wide variety on a campus-- can be at the center of a global learning system that receives and offers all kinds of resources to a global multi-cultural effort It must deal with all ages, with multi-age groupings, with on the job learning, with lifelong learning, with tailored individualized learning and more. Stephenson (2006) foresees a global "knowledge eco-system." On a mixed learning system note a blog on a university in Malaysia: <http://elearningmalaysia.blogspot.com>..
Probably there should be a global digital learning system that coordinates all learning and all kinds of learning institutions. For example, for a start, Pedro Aranzadi reported to a November 2005 UNESCO `virtual university conference on free course software that `Universia'--in which more than 800 universities in Spain and Latin America were shareholders--had for several years been translating MIT's free courses into Spanish and Portuguese. Then Universia egan "to help member universities publish their own "open course ware." Mitrano (2006) has proposed some imaginative ideas about `building a global university' that would "turn traditional education on its head (by placing "learning n service of larger questions, such has how to accomplish environmental sustainability, international law to settle disputes, better world governance, end world hunger and lift the ethics of research as many students from various countries cooperated on research projects in which they might participate for four years or longer. The fact that the technology exists to make this possible "should turn the possibility into an imperative.".
We are here discussing
some models for a future `global virtual lifelong learning system'
provide essential needed knowledge for nearly everyone in the world, especially for
individuals who do not have the chance to be involved in on-campus
supportive learning communities.’ Having in the last chapter proposed
for discussion a model that has not much been discussed, it is useful
now to consider the model that may be
inevitable, one that is evolving without design or planned structure. It
is a market-driven model wherein learning programs are
`marketed’ to distant customers, and with business
corporations, publishing houses and others entering the `
market’ to offer competing courses and programs. Its structure or
system might in time involve something like the World Trade Organization
(WTO) that at the turn of the century started to see
distance education courses as a commodity it should regulate.
Important policy issues are discussed at:
Already available online--soon in theory available in every neighborhood on the planet--are tens of thousands of courses. Osborn (2006) uses the word organic for the style needed so that education can be more imaginative, creative and transformational. He reports on a system for innovation in which learners acquire a passion for learning. By contrast most traditional and existing educational structures have top-down `control' organizations industrial-age type systems in which creative innovation is difficult on the local, regional and national levels 'Computing in higher education has evolved from islands of innovation, to activities that depend on campuswide and worldwide infrastructures, to an ecosystem with many niches of experimentation and resulting innovation." (Smith and Cohon 2005).
Many of educational institutions have had splendid architects for campus buildings, but where are the architects for academics in virtual/cyberspace? Brown 2001 has said that "we are witnessing a profound blurring of the classical boundaries separating teaching, learning, research administration, communication, media and play." So, he has said, an architecture is needed that that unifies these separate `infospheres' so as '"to produce a new form of learning ecology" where the virtual and the physical co-exist seamlessly. When asked what a virtual university would look like, one expert recommended : <http://www.ivc.illinois.edu/> For a largest directory of E-learning courses see: <http://www.worldwidelearn.com/>.
One of the most significant developments of 2003-04 perhaps may have been the decision of Massachusetts Institute of Technology to give away free "all of its course materials--approximately 2000 courses-- via the Internet. (Vest 2004). The president of MIT has expressed the hope that this will help "build a web of knowledge that will enhance human learning worldwide." Over time, he said: we expect to innovations in all kinds of multidisciplinary education. and research." The goal is to "create a model that other universities can follow and improve. MIT has, he said "taken an ethical stand against the idea that knowledge should only be accessible only to those who can pay for it. We hope, he said: "that access to the work of faculty members from diverse disciplines and institutions will increase in order of magnitude the benefits to educators and learners who otherwise would not have access to such materials" In 2005 the University of Maryland was preparing to do the same. . Some other universities have also made their entire curriculum available online, but not free. A second may be the X-O computer (3.7) in the hands of the world's poorest children.
For a discussion of some 2004 projects see: <http://www.enterprisenetworksandservers.com/monthly/ar t.php/292>.UNESCO called together a `summit' of top officers of the largest `open universities, such as in Indonesia, Iran, Spain, the UK and the USA, Korea, Pakistan, South Africa, Thailand and Turkey. Together they began plans to create a global network. Utterback (2004), however, has said that he doubts that increasing the size of existing institutions to mammoth proportions--so as to serve many more students--is more likely than to "pursue intellectual labors on a small but efficient scale.'
The years 2002-04 saw several articles in the Chronicle of Higher Education (i.e, Breneman 2002, and many articles in Sept. 19, 2003) about the financial crisis facing state-supported universities in the USA. Some universities and colleges were hoping to recruit tuition-paying online students, even from other countries. In some states there was discussion of the possibility that money could be saved by eliminating duplication of courses, as students on one campus could take courses online from another tax-supported university within the same state. Raschke (2003) speaks of the coming of the `hyperversity." Among pioneering experiments, for example, was Universitas21: <http://www.universitas21.com/u21global.htm>
However, this effectiveness of this market model in providing essential learning to everyone in the world requires bottom-up collaboration with neighborhood electronic learning centers that can provide counsel and help connect the individual with help in finding what fits into his or her special needs.
Michael Moore (2001) nicely summarized some problems and possibilities for online learning. He pointed out that “the fragmented nature of our distance education system (with its) multiplicity of courses and course materials and services that are delivered by thousands of independent providers.” They often fall short of good quality, he said, “and there are no common standards.” In the late 1990’s representatives of some higher education institutions met “to see if they could create a set of standards “ and since then the effort has been continued by the Instructional Management System (IMS) Project http://www.imsproject.org> of EDUCAUSE’S <http://www.educause.edu> National Learning Structure Initiative. “The membership of EDUCAUSE consisted of over 1,800 colleges, universities and education organizations, and over 180 corporations.” The IMS proposed to develop “marketable `learning objects” which could be used to assemble differing educational programs. Moore explained with this analogy: “learning objects are the bricks out of which an institution could construct a program according to its own preferred architecture. By using the standard bricks” a small institution could “build its course offerings module by module rather like adding rooms to a home, or to pick up the whole whose and merge with another.” These standard bricks—`learning objects' based on standard learning objectives—would for example include
Any instructor, moving to a new institution or preparing a new course, could thus not have to be an expert in all phases of the operation but could make use of standard pieces already available for assembly. Moore pointed to the advantages in “areas as certification and transfer or credits and makes “economic sense as well as educational sense.” What Moore described fits into a market-oriented global strategy.
Yet who is going to evaluate and choose among the multiplying jungle of technologies and electronic learning materials for learning from all over the world. (See here 2.3. and 3.3) Are a vision and administrative structure needed to create standard `dedicated education technologies’ for global education that can be mass-produced so as to be more affordable to all? A global electronic infrastructure was proposed at the University of Tampere, Finland, in 1999 at a conference funded by UNESCO, USAid, the Pan American Health Organization, the World Bank, the Soros Foundation, the ITU, etc. A University of Massachusetts anthropologist worries that his university is going too far in replacing faculty with technology that soon will be out of date. . .without funds to maintain and replace it. An advertisement in the T.H.E Journal recommends technology that can be rented over the Internet instead of being purchased - and that can be regularly updated.
In chapter two we discussed some ways in which such a model might be administered, and President Duderstadt (2001) suggested another, modeled after HMO’s (Health Maintenance Organizations.) To make higher education available to a larger segment of human society “we need a new paradigm.” Fortunately it is becoming clear that as synchronous learning technology can be made available to anyone, anywhere, “who wants to learn” and “at the time and place of choice. So, as an HMO contracts to provide a full range of health-care services through its own staff or by outsourcing from other health care providers, there might be EMO’s (Education Maintenance Organizations) that agree to provide whatever learning opportunities individuals may need throughout their lives. Indeed, he suggests, some existing universities might “evolve into this role, essentially entering into lifetime agreements with their students and graduates.” However, Duderstadt said, it is more likely that an EMO would be a broker of educational services…which would link learners with educational service providers whenever, wherever and however they need knew knowledge and skills.” Perhaps a lifelong contract would begin when a baby is born, a sort of insurance supported at first by family and government assistance and then later also in partnership with employers.
Meanwhile, in advance of possible future developments, what is seen as happening now is here labeled as a possible `lifelong worldwide electronic learning system.’ It seems to be coming into existence as a linking and combination of all that education institutions are doing from country to country. Ryan (2000) described technologies and procedures enabling this, such as `resource-based learning' (RBL) that promotes student-centered learning in a mass-education context. <http://westworld.dmu.ac.uk/vu-rbl>.
We propose the word “emerging” that suggests a more evolutionary learning model as a living ecological system that may not need much human biological/management and organization. Brown (2001) proposed "a learning ecology with a substantial richness." The tropical rain forest, for example, is a marvelous, functioning system, perhaps the most complex one on earth; and it is weakened when human beings try to manage and control it. If the global learning system is to be understood like that, it is essential to deepen its roots in the rich soil of a primary and secondary education that also is rooted in the history and experience of many world cultures.
The Association of American Colleges and Universities was at the turn of the 21st century anticipating lifelong learning that would involve "continuous conversations between high school and college educators about learning outcomes. curricula and curriculum practices" that would better prepare for higher education; and college programs that would prepare graduates for lifelong learning. A global system should be seamless, cradle to grave.
To contemplate an ecological model--focusing on quality at all levels--would require a research on the extent to which it can just be allowed to evolve without bureaucratic planning and and top-down control. Systems of control often get out of hand, and replicate themselves in ways that limit needed creativity. An alternative would not be bound by semesters, fixed class hours or "strict discipline borders"...but could allow students to develop over time and track that development along several paths....a liberal education grounded in practice." (Brown 2001)
Perhaps that contemplation should begin with `chaos theory? For this chapter examines what many consider to be a `kludge’ model. If this market model is inevitable can it function well without some kind of formal or informal global administration structure? It could be facilitated by the creation of a very large and sophisticated online course catalog, available to all on the web. It could have advanced searching mechanisms to organize the information—course evaluations, content and availability-- in a wide variety of ways. Such a catalog with a specialized search engine might expand procedures now recommended by the Academic Library Association’s `Tool Kit for the Expert Websearcher;' for example, multimedia search engines that locate photos, graphics, video, sound, numeric data and that could search for much more. (Also see the Wayback Machine (http://www.archive.org) for other possibilities.)
Many assume that for online learning a central issue is how to turn each class into a learning community. A larger question is this: can each such small online learning community--in the market approach--adequately be transdisciplinary and multicultural?
When educators are asked for the mental model they have of a virtual online learning community, many of the pictures that come to their minds are not yet encouraging. Words like `holistic’ and ‘lifelong distance learning’ do not fit onto the organizational charts, the boxes, the diagrams of relationships between divisions, schools, departments, learner age, development offices, black study centers and whatever. There are of course some imaginative courses and programs—but they are far from adding up to what a billion off-campus learners need.
We have already suggested that that there may be many consortia, and that what is inevitable may be a linking of consortia with all global virtual learning not otherwise included. So the model examined in this chapter would include—as is now true in K-12 education—publicly (tax) funded education, `home schooling’ for adults, for-profit higher education ventures and private virtual higher education (such as religious.)
When we speak of a `model,’ the first mental-picture may be the buildings on a college campus. However, just as a church is the people and not just a building; so also a learning structure is not the buildings, however fine they may be. It is not so easy to simulate the learners—especially when they are scattered and need to become a virtual “learning community.” The goal of universities is often described as “serving the nation.” What kind of new design—at least of links-- is needed to serve all the peoples of the planet?
In 2001 it was reported that 70 percent of the over 4000 higher education institutions in the USA were already offering some distance education courses online. Millions of students all over the world take such courses, many from countries other than their own. It is expected that by mid-century nearly all higher education institutions, and many secondary schools and technology training academies will be offering courses to the world. Perhaps one reason to design a lifelong learning structure will be to define new goals, methods and purposes; beyond the needs of industry the focus for many learners will be on their own personal desires and needs. These questions will also be further discussed in Volume III.
One of the `hurricane forces’ driving change is multi-culturalism. Another is learner-centered curriculum. Already we see such forces coming together when, for example, one student in Kansas want to take a course in Arab poetry and she wants to take it from an expert in the Middle East, not from some local teacher who knows no Arabic and has no access to primary sources. The quality of foreign language study improves when learners can spend time in a language lab listening to software programs that repeats a word over and over until feedback indicates that the learner has mastered the pronunciation. But language programs have always been better when learners can go to another country to learn language in the context of absorbing the culture there on a face-to-face basis. Since everyone cannot do that, learners are beginning to profit from a class where, for example, half the learners are in Japan and wish to learn English and the other half are in Hawaii and want to learn Japanese. And the learning will be much more interesting and effective if the study of a language is combined holistically with a study of a foreign country’s history, culture, contemporary life and so forth, with `virtual’ visits to museums and other sites there. However, as the World Wide Web is huge and therefore confusing can we expect great confusion also in whatever emerges, in this model, within a lifelong learning system.
It is also important to include other international projects such as the European Commission proposal for Erasmus Mundus, a project "to promote intercultural understanding through co-operation with third world countries in higher education" and the development of virtual universities.
Shall we consider the possibility that, as such educational programs develop, a global virtual lifelong education system and structure is already evolving--as the Internet has also been evolving--without a master plan or a carefully studied design to be applied? Goonatilake’s (1999) view of it may provide a theoretical basis for such an evolution. He sees the coming together now of three `lineages’ in the history of humanity’s development –millions of years of biology/genetic development; thousands of years of cultural development, and now a century of information technology and new cognitive systems. Today the shift from human to machine processing--of the vast almost already unmanageable amounts of data now being collected--may be leading to the evolving of a system quite different from what educators today could yet imagine or propose. As these three ‘lineages’ or information streams come together as a `river,’ something new and unexpected maybe evolving in global learning. “Current approaches used for discussing human interactions of other technologies,” he says. “Do not capture these particular deep changes.”
Planners can have biological models, cultural models, and computer simulation models. Perhaps all three are coming together now to provide a “new educational world view,” and “a window into the subjectivities of each lineage.” A result in mid-century may be the emerging of `ecological models’ for global virtual lifelong education. However we cannot yet with confidence begin with that or any assumption. These chapters on models begin with five different emphases and organizational principles.
(a) Chapter 6, the last chapter’s SLARC model, began with the content of courses in a face-to-face context and with a focus on the knowledge and skills needs of individual learners.
(b) This chapter 7’s modle begins with courses already being offered from one country to another, assuming that it will be difficult to bypass the offerings from many campuses. For example (Lenn 2002) the University of Michigan has been training corporation managers in S. Korea and Temple University, offering ten undergraduate majors and several graduate degrees in Japan. Chapter Two already examined some of the difficulties, however, in existing experiments in administrating such global virtual learning projects. Perhaps this ecological model will evolve into a new global system, existing in cyberspace/virtual space `in the air' above the structures of existing learning institutions and program, including in its variety all of these five models and others also. Note European `distributed virtual university: <http://prometeus.deis.unibo.it/Prometeus/Journal00/Index.htm>
(c) Chapter 8 and volume 2 propose a model that focuses on large-scale and powerful new kinds of research by linking the world’s research universities.
(d) Chapter 9’s model is a global virtual community college that focuses on area and neighborhood needs.
(e) Chapter 10’s model begins with an adaptation of the USA Land-grant college idea that becomes a professionally oriented system, organizing curriculum, research and outreach `extension services’ to professionals on the job.
This chapter's ecological model might include everything in a healthy balance including, among other things, a possible global curriculum as the structure for a catalog of courses and communities of learning. But how? The 2000 American Prospect article, “Can the Net Govern itself?” might be adapted to “Can competitive institutions govern themselves globally to avoid electronic distance learning from becoming a new kind of global imperialism? Perhaps there could be UN treaty arrangements, as for the world airlines, postal and TV/radio systems?
No one is intending it, and no institution is seriously tending it, but a new kind of global curriculum may be emerging, which tat first consisted of learning materials and distance education courses that were online available anywhere. <http://www.usdla.org/html/resources/dllp.htm> A learner of any age and experience will need help in finding just the right mix of courses for a program tailored to her unique needs or his special interests. Someday, hopefully, there will be a comprehensive catalog, daily updated, regularly evaluated by learners, teachers, and curriculum specialists. The New York Times, January 12. 2003, reported that the European Union has determined to develop--in nearly all European universities--a common curriculum with standard and interchangeable degrees and standards."
At the heart of it, for example, could thee increasingly be specialized programs (as in health care for example) that offer a varied mix of all kinds of learning opportunities from many sources and countries, but with no guarantee that everything needed will be provided, especially for the poor who cannot pay. Also as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology puts all of its courses online it is with the understanding that an MIT education requires time on campus. Nevertheless those who cannot come to MIT and higher educations online and elsewhere can profit from course material prepared at MIT. See: <http://ts.mivu.org/default.asp?show=article&id=979> The African Virtual University offers courses from many sources: <http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2003-12/njio-ndi121003.php>.
New human objectives and purposes can arise once this vast curriculum of offerings and a useful and helpful catalog come into existence. Some of the new possibilities could be enabled by new technologies that no one has yet thought of, or at least that no one is yet developing. It can be a global curriculum for all ages and needs. For example there might be a curriculum of stories, available on the internet, for pre-school children to listen to as they play alone or go to sleep, each story part of holistic lifelong recommended curriculum with planned objectives and from which parents or teachers can choose alternatives best suited to their own values and culture. It could provide a curriculum for youngsters who are home schooled when and because they are isolated, are in a hospital, or when parents have chosen to do some home schooling. Its materials could also be adaptable to every age in different cultures and for unique family values. At every age it will provide alternatives, for example for the Japanese family temporarily in Mexico. The virtual resources could provide, for example, a mix of what children in Japan would be studying as well as the richness that Mexican culture can provide..
The talented, gifted learners of any age could work at their own age level in math -- or areas where they may not be talented--while working at a greatly advanced level in other studies. The twelve-year-old genius will not need to go to a campus—for which she is not yet socially prepared-- but can undertake advanced courses at her own school or at home. The city or university librarian who is confronted with a ten-year-old who wants to check out graduate school level biology texts will not need to refuse because of the child's age. Any secondary or college-age student, anywhere in the world, can take courses in art or in elementary farming or building trades skills. Dertouzos (1997) asks: “How can you know that you have options to build shelters for the poor if you are completely unaware of hammers and that they can be used to build houses faster, cheaper and better than clay and leaves?” Also see McDonough et al.( 2002) on new ecological design for everything. (Actually, of course, a great Arab architect has been showing how to build better, cheaper houses out of clay!) But Dertouzos is saying that help-needing people can be matched with `help offering’ people through information infrastructure through a global virtual system.
But how is this to be coordinated with essential planning undertaken? Who will offer courses that are not profitable in a market-driven virtual global university system? All kinds of technology can be used—adapted to local bottom-up discovered possibilities and needs—but many are skeptical that quality learning can be provided at a distance. So let’s explore some possibilities that will use newer technologies that are just beginning to be used, and which will be more powerful and feasible in the coming decades. Girod et al. (2001) say that educators use technology in two ways:
Emerging technology is pushing educators to look at learners and learning in new ways.(3.3) Technology will not improve learning “until teachers also begin to transform technology.” We cannot describe possibilities for a thousand different kinds of courses but can offer a few examples:
Science Laboratories. How can an isolated learner on a remote island have the laboratory experimentation that is essential in modern science? Forinash and Wisman (2001) have pointed out that “experimental “design…can only be learned from using real equipment in real experiments.” The three delivery technologies that up to now have been used the most for performing experiments in distance learning, they report, have been “computer simulations, videos of real laboratories, and laboratory kits sent to the student.” These are useful where real experimentation may be dangerous or too complex “such as controlling a nuclear reactor.” Equipment for an advanced physics course, for example, might include lasers and other very expensive equipment. Soon new technology can in many cases provide lab experience that can be superior to the typical lab for resident students. Safety issues are minimized. Limits of time and space can be transcended, “allowing experiments that monitor geographically distant phenomena such as weather and seismographic data.” Computers to manage, collect and analyze data, and Internet connections make it possible distant labs “to compare favorably with an in-residence laboratory.”
What is lacking as yet are, for example, “an educational model for distance science laboratories, the lack of delivery technology standards for instrument hardware and software. Forinash and Wisman proceed to report, for example, on how distant learners could study the frequency of sound, using musical sounds where they were. In another virtual lab students did not need to line up to take turns using a computer running an oscilloscope program but could use it at any time that was most convenient to them when it was part of a Web page. With no limits to time and space to analyze electromagnetic signals, students could share information gathered at various locations. Also they found that distance education offered opportunities such as large-scale collaboration; for example in using weather data, testing air quality in various locations. Imagine, Forinash and Wisman suggested, “If students had been able to monitor local radiation levels in various locations in Europe after the Chernobyl disaster.” The use of distant labs can be greatly improved not only with the use of simulations but soon with virtual reality labs in which learners and participate together online as if in the same room.
University of Southern California engineers (USC 2001) reported work on 3-D internet technology to enable people to see and talk –as if together in classroom or lab—with people at a great distance--seeing facial expressions and gestures. They not only will be able to see and participate in biology experiments, they also they enter into those experiments through virtual reality technology. As even Internet2 gets more crowded, scientists and academics entered the 21st century anticipating the National Science Foundation's `teragrid.' We might look at any subject area more imaginatively, such as: .
History can come alive through the use of documentary and news films on interactive CD-ROMs. While a distant learner may wish to see the teacher from time to time, a lecture on history might in any case be a voice behind films of real events or of virtual reality staging of historic events. Creating such materials will for a time be very expensive, but once created the films and electronic texts (3.7) could be used by millions of students across space and time. Virtual reality tours can also be conducted to the actual sites of historical events, to museums, to Pompeii as the locus of discussion about life in Roman times, and so forth. This kind of `lecture’ can be experienced at home as well as in class and can be videotaped to be viewed over and over. For online question and answer sessions the most frequently asked questions could also be included on tape (or using better digital technology as it emerges.) Such presentations in history and many other kinds of courses can be adapted to local interests, cultures. Students can update the history of their own communities on the global historical database as an exercise in historical method.
Accounting. As with many subjects, software exists to teach basic accounting skills, enabling students to work at their own pace until the essential is mastered. This makes it possible for class sessions—online or on campus—to become seminars on ethical, more and practical problems that accountants face. In an online graduate level course (Gagne 2001) students could communicate with other and the instructor via “telephone, e-mail, threaded bulletin board discussions and synchronous chat technologies. The online students never met in person so they created `a class feeling’ by “exchanging information about each other on the class Web site.” In many such online classes the students learn more about each other—work history, family, hobbies, career plans—than students in resident classes ever know about all the others. They also were given helpful supplementary materials in addition to the textbook (the same so that two kinds of classes could be compared.)
Sociology. Will the availability of web connections, vast databases and imported modules that can be brought into any course expand and enrich courses of all kinds? How would a course, say, in criminology be different if it was connected to all the points of view of all countries and cultures--to deal with often unmanageable global crime syndicates--and on punishment (filmed visits to prisons), rehabilitation, crime prevention. If research makes it possible, on a medical model, to treat each case individually?
Such possibilities are examined in more detail in Volume III.
Since there is not yet an adequate global catalog (3.8.6), students--who would take a course their own community does not offer--may use the web to explore possibilities, asking for information about courses anywhere in search of a specific course needed. At present this tends to be dependent upon serendipity. A student may not find out about a course that would be just right. Or someone on an e-mail conference such as DEOS-L at Pennsylvania State University may reply on-line: “I took such a course at Thomas Edison State College in New Jersey that pioneered in offering courses that can be taken anywhere.” Barone (2003) has pointed out that education and "the commercial sector "appear to be finding ways to work together in more realistic and sensible arrangements." <http://www.directoryofschools.com/link/education.htm>.
There have been beginnings of an on-line global catalog of courses at the University of Texas, at the International Center for Distance Learning (ICDL) in the United Kingdom and elsewhere. The ICDL has been a documentation center of the British Open University. It’s internationally accessible computer database has provided available information about subjects available, media used, entrance requirements, and information on specific courses offered electronically by Commonwealth institutions. A student in Europe could thus explore on-line the course offerings and available funding for courses in some other countries. A 2001 computerized database has provided descriptions and registration information about 50,000 available “distance/online courses from 60 countries.” Courses can be located “by keyword, course name/subject, country of origin, or name of institution. (See <http://www.dlcoursefinder.com>.
However, an adequate catalog might best be achieved through linking and cross-indexing of all existing online catalogs from individual schools and businesses with faculty and course descriptions. As such a global electronic catalog of offerings becomes available to anyone on line, each university and each nation could discover what it has to give and what it needs to receive in and from a global education network. It has been suggested that an on-line catalog might be regularly updated like the computerized telephone directories in France. It would seem more possible if such a directory of courses and personnel could be “distributed,” that is, a system for indexing and organizing could make it possible for information about each course to be kept on computers at each school. Again, one model might be the way the American telephone system refers information seekers to a distributed on-line directory. More than seventy higher education institutions have experimented with a “white pages” directory on the Internet, a sort of “world-wide online phone book.” McGregor (1991) described the technology then available that could be used for “a worldwide, online, interconnected Directory with all sorts of information.”
The adequate global catalog for tomorrow should be a multi-lingual file of online learning resources. It would not only list all that is available, but would include student and peer-reviewed evaluations which should compare various offerings with information on methods of instruction, faculty, costs, quality and results. (Barry 2001).
The ‘market approach’ to global virtual education is not the way to provide adequate education for people who earn a USA dollar a day. Also this model raises other questions. For example, will for profit institutions create supportive learning communities? Isn't the love of leaning being replaced with a desire just to make money? (Engell 2005) Will the for-profit sector drain off resources that are needed for research? Is education to be a `protected’ market in which governments restrict access? Journalists report the bad science for money that in 2005 was tempting many university researchers.
As France--when it began to b e the world’s second largest exporter of educational services--fought to increase its share of the market, a UNESCO publication wondered if France was moving to a protectionist position. The UNESCO Courier, February 2000, reported that the World Trade Organization “had launched a process that could open up to competition the expanding and highly protected market in education.” New Zealand, it was reported, had decided to open up to outside competition its whole private education sector, from primary school to university. Education employs over fifty million people worldwide with a budget of a thousand billion dollars and was reported to be growing at breakneck speed. If a country’s education is completely funded and administered by the government, “which is hardly true anywhere,” it could stay outside the agreement. See Ruch (2001) on the rise of the for-profit university that is the "only sector of...higher education that is growing." See: <http://www.directoryofschools.com/>.
Educational bureaucracies and unions are seen as slowing the process of needed change. This may be especially true in the production and approval of curricular materials. Textbooks and other such materials are very profitable to many companies, and most of the world’s school systems do not have the money necessary to re-tool the system with electronic textbooks and materials. This, the World Trade Organization and others propose, makes it inevitable that education will move toward “greater market responsiveness, coupled with an increasing openness to alternative financing mechanisms.” This, it is said, will tend to limit government monopolies and provide more openness to foreign suppliers.
Heretofore the international market in education has largely been that of students from one country going to study in another, which in 1995 was a 27 billion dollar enterprise. Globalization efforts focused on abolishing immigration red tape and regulations that restricted student mobility. Now in the 21st century, however, the expansion of courses sold over the Internet has been exploding globally. “A working group at the Services 2000 conference” (Hirtt 2000) concluded that the education sector “needs the same degree of transparency, transferability, mutual recognition, and freedom from undue regulation or restraints and barriers that the United States acknowledges on behalf of other service industries.” To illustrate with some American projects, Sylvan Learning Systems, announced in August, 2001, that it was forming a higher education division “as further proof that online higher education is becoming extremely competitive.” One of its divisions enrolled more than 35,000 teachers in graduate education programs; another division had expanded to offer 1,700 courses to twenty thousand online students.” (Chronicle of Higher Education, August 10, 2001.) In addition to the well-known University of Phoenix, many others office extensive courses. The Chronicle of Higher Education, May 14. 2004, however, reported the demise of the previously much touted British Virtual University.
As American universities began to create for-profit subsidiaries and even subsidiary online universities, many questions were emerging regarding profit and collaboration to increase profitability. As many competing universities add online courses there is not yet evidence that many such projects--such as Cornell University's for-profit venture-- can produce significant income. On the other hand, there may be significant economies as consortia exchange courses; for example the South Dakota Board of Regents was in 2002 creating a common electronic data base to bring together the records of all students, since so many of them were online courses from several different campuses. The state of Virginia in 2001 created a Virtual University to allow students to take courses from different schools as a solution to a projected great increase in the number of students.
In August, 200l, the U.S. Army’s Portal was Up and Running. <http://www.earmyu.com>.This `eArmyU’ was making it possible for 80,000 to register for courses from more than 20 accredited institutions. Textbooks could be ordered automatically. That $453 million project demonstrates infrastructure that can target other specific groups such as teachers. For example, Fathom, owned by Columbia University and “a dozen other institutions including museums, signed a contract with the American Association of Retired Persons to offer discounts to members over fifty.
The Networking Academies set up by Cisco Systems have been another kind of global education program. Through partner relationships with universities, governments and the United Nations Development Program in 136 countries worldwide, these Academies. As of 1999 served some 33,000 students in the Asia Pacific region alone. <http://www.cisco.com/asiapac/academy>.
Many for-profit ventures began to face problems. The August 10, 2001 Chronicle: “Thomson Will Shut Down Harcourt’s Online College” which during the past year had enrolled 32 students. Again from the Chronicle: May 4, 2001: “Rich in Cash and Prestige, UNext Struggles in Its Search for Sales.” UNext began in 1997 with impressive university partners, Stanford, Carnegie-Mellon, Columbia, University of Chicago and the London School of Economics and Political Science, to offer business courses to customers like General Motors, AOL, Time Warner. It’s degree-granting subsidiary was named Cardean University. It has also sold courses to universities. Newsweek reported in April, 2000, that UNext’s founder hoped it would become an elite Internet university serving people around the world who were unable to attend conventional schools and people who already had degrees but need additional education to advance their careers. Expecting to spend a hundred million dollars before going online, UNext’s faculty already included three Nobel prize winners, and was preparing to develop “a whole new way of teaching,” for example replacing `boring lectures’ with an interactive style “more like a video game. Students would have a variety of interactive tools at their disposal as they would seek to solve real business problems. May 25, 2001: “Leery About Use of Their Names, Michigan and Toronto Opt Out of Universitas21.” Headed by the president of the University of Melbourne, Australia, the consortium’s 18 universities in ten countries had signed an agreement with Thomson Learning Company to operate the project.
As of 2003 many for-profit universities were merging or being purchased by increasingly large companies. (Blumenstyk et al 2003) , DeVry for example paid "$310 million in cash for Ross University"
This market-ecological model for future global virtual education still faces many difficult problems for students, faculty, colleges and for-profit educators and government bureaucracies. Some examples are:
What about mass production? Sir John Daniel proposed that an academic lecture by a major scientist could be delivered at once to a million students--soon with automatic translation--but that must be supplemented by local counsel and support. Effective learning for millions of online students in the same electronic venue must rely on local seminars for discussion and clarification. Many basic courses may be automated so that they can be cheap. In time, one for-profit university may enroll millions of students
In volume III (3.1) we say more about the problems facing the online learner. Albert Bork (Educause, Nov. 1999) and others see new technology as enabling entirely new self-directed learning systems, greatly empower the capacities of individuals. But what about the enrichment of humanity through art, literature, drama, music, etc.? (More in Volume III). How can the individual learner sort out and choose among thousands of available courses?
How can every culture and language be respected (automatic translation issues)? Can impoverished universities in developing countries trade courses on their traditions, cultures, history, etc. for advanced science courses that they need? Not likely with for-profit institutions. Is distance education--indeed all learning--still in its Jurassic age, as proposed by the president of the University of Phoenix who discusses the pitfalls and unexpected developments that lie ahead? (Educause. April 2000.)
Academic freedom and security issues? A Chronicle article, July 6, 2001, “A Right-Wing Hindu Group Exerts Its Muscle in Indian Academe,” suggests possible problems in global academic freedom. Scholars worry that the independence of universities is threatened by demands of a right-wing government that astrology and `Vedic math’ be taught.
Conflict of Interest? Some universities such as Harvard have debated whether and how faculty members could be allowed to teach online courses for commercial or other institutions, especially if they do so with the Harvard name.Answers to some provocative questions on the future of higher learning in EDUCAUSE, January 2000, support this chapter’s market model without answering the question of how it can provide needed higher education to the entire world. Lenn (2002) reported progress in in the establishment of agreed-upon standards.
The Funding Crisis. Duderstadt (2003) worries that universities are doing to be asked to do more with less money, especially government funds.
“How can the burgeoning global demand for higher learning best be addressed?” Barry Munitz replied: “With the same miraculous variety of type and quality that has driven American higher education….national and chauvinistic protection will give way to global networks.”
“Are for-profit institutions a threat to higher education as we know it?” Chancellor Ward of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, replied: “Most for-profits are currently serving a new clientele or one different from that served by major residential universities, but the increase customization of their mode of delivery will greatly influence how we teach and learn.” Munitz added that while for-profits would not replace them, traditional universities will have to adjust dramatically to the challenges. The president of Pennsylvania State University added “in the end we will be competitive” although we will face financial difficulties.
How can the poorest in the developing world be best served by this market model? The ecological model that lets many flowers bloom is at the center of many emerging projects, such as the Australian National University's satellite-based videoconferencing initiative to provide e-learning to developing countries. Another illustration may be the International Cyber-university which in advance of its opening in 2003 already involved nineteen universalities in Asia and Pomona College in the USA. Many more such institutions in many countries were expected to join this project of the Pacific-Asia Consortium for Research and Human Resources Development that "projects an enormous reach."
Finally, a simulation of a market-driven model can perhaps only be a model or map of all the online distance education that exists. Jedediah Purdy, speaking of social and moral ecologies also, hopes that learning will no longer be separated from living. On virtual learning communities see: <http://www.educause.edu/vcop/>.
The Future of Higher (Lifelong) Education: For All Worldwide: A Holistic View