Scanning Retrospective, No. 6

Foresight Snippets – No. 6

[Originally published] 14 February 2001

  • A University That Wants Students to Stay Away from Class
  • Report: On-line Training ‘Boring’
  • Setting Standards for Web-Ed

A University That Wants Students to Stay Away from Class

Fairleigh Dickinson University ( in the USA has made it a requirement for new students that they take at least one course a year on-line. “We believe it’s a transforming learning tool,” said university president J. Michael Adams. “If we are preparing global citizens, we believe that our graduates must be facile with the Internet.” FDU has over 9,000 students, and is positioning itself as a leader in global education. Nearly 700 students from over 60 countries study at FDU. The university currently has about 35 on-line courses which it is seeking to expand by another 50 or 60 in the next few years, spending about US$5million on development and upgrading network infrastructure. “Distance learning, when it’s done right, can be as effective as classroom instruction,” Adams said. “It is neither better nor worse. It is just different.” The fate of this FDU initiative could be very instructive to us at Swinburne.

Source: News Journal Online

Report: On-line Training ‘Boring’

Over the past few years we have been witnessing the adoption by tertiary institutions of information technologies used earlier by businesses for the on-line delivery of teaching and training. FDU’s requirement that students take at least one course on-line is a case in point. It would therefore be useful to see what business has found in its foray into the world of on-line training, in order to see if there are some lessons to be learned by on-line course designers in tertiary institutions. Well, the news is not as good as one might have hoped. (And I hoped it would be good because I once worked as a designer of on-line training for streaming delivery over the Internet!) A report published mid last year by Forrester Research reveals that in the US “businesses are enthusiastic about online learning, but whether many are actually seeing any real benefits from their Net-based education programs is unclear. And students who do sign up seldom graduate; the content providers and consultants Forrester interviewed for the report acknowledged that some online courses suffer from dropout rates as high as 80 percent.”

Source: Wired News,1367,38504,00.html

Setting Standards for Web-Ed

Concerned with the question of whether distance education currently being delivered on-line is any good, The American Federation of Teachers recently released a report entitled “Distance Education Guidelines for Good Practice”, which calls for clear content standards, technical support and training for students and faculty, protection of intellectual property, and counselling for students. An overwhelming majority of teachers who had taught a distance education course said they would do it again, but questioned whether an entire degree program should be delivered online. “While online and distance learning are in general good options for taking a particular course or a set of courses, this does not automatically mean that it is acceptable for an entire undergraduate degree program to have no in-class component,” Sandra Feldman, president of AFT, said in a statement.

Source: American Federation of Teachers Web Site
Press Release:

Foresight Snippets are interesting, intriguing or weird things we find during our strategic scanning which may or may not have direct obvious relevance to Swinburne, but which do provide signals about what the future might be like. Brought to you by the Foresight & Planning Unit.

An archive of the Foresight Snippets and a list of Frequently Asked Questions are available at [deleted].

Copyright © 2001 FPU and Swinburne University of Technology.
Feedback is welcome. Send feedback to [deleted].

NOTE: In all the posts in this series, the original source URLs are left exactly as they were when published 20-odd years ago. This means they will almost certainly be dead links (or good ol’ 404 errors). I do not have the patience or inclination to follow-up or find any archived or re-located versions of those web pages (because, well, life is too short). But, if it really bugs you, I invite you to see if you can find archived or relocated versions of those dead-link pages. And if you do, let me know, and I’ll update these posts with due credit to your detective work.

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