Chapter 5. Administrative Issues in Online Education
It is easy to provide course material on the web and claim that it is online education. However,
it is a far more demanding challenge to develop and administrate online colleges. An
administrative system should be able to handle students, teachers, courses, and course
material. An online college may have to handle thousands of students, hundreds of teachers,
and a large number of courses with password restricted web pages, discussion forums,
distribution lists, class rosters, and student presentations. It may also have to provide
administrative systems for the dispatch of textbooks, handling of tuition and examination fees,
and organization of local examinations. These services constitute a major challenge for many
A very simple example of administrative tasks that could be handled on the web is presented
<12> Administrative use includes enrolment and students contacting the administration to
find out their examination results.
Institutions that plan to offer large scale and professional online education need an
administrative system which is integrated with the web. To accomplish this, institutions may
follow several strategies. The simplest strategy is probably to collaborate with an institution
that already has a functional administrative system. Another solution, which requires more
technical competence, is to develop an in house system based on common Internet services.
The third option is to purchase a standard system for online education. These standard systems
are continuously being improved, but they may still need much local adaptation. They may
only meet some of the administrative needs, and they could place some pedagogical
limitations on the courses.
No Web based Administration
A discouraging, but important observation is that a number of institutions do not use the web
for administrative purposes:
The internet is used for presentation and communication only <13>.
All except administration. Administration will be developed in 1999 <5>.
The primary use is communication with students; we do not use the web for
More elaborate statements also confirm a lack of web based administrative systems:
<35> We use the web for course administration, but this still causes quite some problems.
We have decided not to use commercially or otherwise available software tools, e.g. Top
Class and others. It is very difficult to find a good compromise between administration
software and course software. Thus, for the time being not much have been done to
develop an administrative system.
<44> The www is used for all of the above except administration. The presentations on to
the web are a valuable tool for a faculty who s objective is to teach the technologies used
for this. Students can observe and try a number of very cutting edge technologies on the