The Open Universiteit Nederland (OUNL) is a public educational institution, funded by the 
government. It has   by law   a double function: 
developing and delivering adult distance education in 7 domains social, cultural, law, 
business, economics, natural and technical sciences 
innovation of higher education in general 
The main office is in Heerlen. 
Current Situation 
For the complete university and all courses, a complete web based architecture has been 
designed, comprising of four webs: InfoNet (general audience with official info), HouseNet 
(intranet web for staff), OpenNet (free net for students and staff) and StudyNet (official course 
supporting web). 
All students have authorized access to their study environment on the web. This study 
environment automatically gives access to all info in relation to courses they have subscribed 
to. This info could be: descriptive information, newsgroups, ftp, mail, groupware, real audio 
and video plug inns, recent developments in relation to the content of the course, etc. 
Newsgroup can be informal or formal. Formal newsgroup are only accessible for specific 
students to discuss assigned themes. 
The implementation of the StudyNet provision is growing and depends on the current 
developments of courses (revision, new courses, updating). Student access is growing too. Of 
24.000 students, about 4000 make now daily use of the facilities. As to the university staff, all 
of them use the HouseNet provision since it replaced the printed information and 
communication provisions. 
Future Situation 
At this moment OUNL is designing, developing, and implementing a completely new 
integrated system called ELO (Electronic Learning environment). The last paragraphs of this 
case study describe the main features of this ELO environment. The online environment at the 
same time introduces completely new educational approaches to learning and working online: 
competency based education. This means that while OUNL move from second generation to 
third generation distance education we also change the complete curriculum structure and 
educational modeling of the courses: task based education, groupware based activities. This 
ELO is being developed in line with OUNL s two missions: own distance education and 
innovation of higher education in general. That's why they will make ELO available for other 
OUNL use a broad mixture of media. The actual StudieNet environment can be viewed as:  
a static set of webs that build upon information that are stored and maintained in separate 
databases (student information, course database, ) with a base set of electronic provisions for 
all the 411 courses: mail, ftp (downloading software), discussion groups, descriptive 
information (comparable to course catalogue), news, etc. At the content level there still a lot 
of referring to the still predominant set of printed materials, videos, tapes, CD ROM and CD 
audio. Depending on specific course requirements, they add groupware (BCWS, real 
audio/video, audio graphics, etc. 



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