with chat rooms, discussion boards and listervs. Course notes are provided online in a variety
of formats including html and pdf. Many units contain media enhancements such as video,
animation and sound. Access to other academic resources such as library and study skills
support are provided. Administrative services such as enrolment, timetables and access to
personal records of progress are also available.
The web is used for presentation, communication, administration, and teaching, but to
differing degrees for the different courses. Administrative use includes enrolment and students
contacting the administration to find out their examination results.
The web is used together with other media. This could range from the web plus lecturing on
campus to the web plus CD ROM plus you name it for distance education. The web is used
predominantly for content and for interaction between people. The student has a web page and
initiates the CD ROM and or video clip through it. Basically ours is a home grown system
because we began teaching on the internet in 1992 and there was nothing available. We added
Graphical User Interfaces in 1995. Our system is UNIX based and we use various bits of
public domain software available on the internet. We have looked at the commercially
available kernels but do not believe that they are better than our system. We do not believe
that a system the size of ours, or what ours will shortly be, can be comfortably accommodated
on a commercial kernel. Some of our academics use WebCT or Top Class for their own
courses and we will provide student links to these, but the university Virtual Campus will
remain our own development.
Communication is primarily e mail and bulletin boards with some web involvement providing
each student with e mail to the tutor and to other students. It provides the distance education
students, who may be 1000 km away from each other, to communicate with each other and
provides peer support.
The system is based on tutors not machines. Students may submit electronically but there is no
electronic marking or return of corrected assignments. No official examinations are on the
web. The 20 year history of our distance education provision continues: students go to
schools, libraries, colleges etc to do their examinations.
Accreditation is provided through degrees, diplomas, certificates, and statements of
completion. Many full degrees are offered with web dimensions. Only 4 courses are available
totally on the web, except for the examinations. Every course is available traditionally, some
are available online. some materials of other courses are available online. There are issues
here of equity and of academic culture. Students can work online but tutors prefer to print out
the assignments and post them back to the students. some students have computers at home
and we can make the assumption that they can get on the net.
The prices are exactly the same as for traditional face to face courses. They are moving
towards flexible start and flexible finish, but they have a lot of students from many Asian
countries and need to proceed prudently.
The web is being used and will be used very widely for teaching in Australia. They run
external courses both at a distance and on the web in which students never come to Western
Australia, let alone to the university. People move a lot nowadays and the norm will be that
they are able to study for their degrees anytime, anywhere.