Study of Issues Associated with Cyber Education
Dr. George K. Kostopoulos
Dr. Kamal Dean Parhizgar
Texas A&M International University, Laredo
This paper describes the issues associated with the
delivery of higher education via the Internet, including academic,
instructional, behavioral, as well as technical. The paper's
position is that eventually a cyber-academia will be formed, with
its own recognition, culture and institutions, which will offer
students unprecedented quality of education, as well as flexibility,
as to time, form and place of instruction.
Re-engineering the entire traditional
academic programs, within the contextual
boundaries of the new scientific innovative
and knowledge-based distance learning
concept, is a strategic complex task for
management. Distance learning guides
academic navigators toward enhancing their
meaningful and purposive path of mass-education. This path of thinking and practicing
mandates an overall reassessment of academic
system designs at all echelons of management,
levels of curricula, and domains of
The reality of departing from the
educational scholarly philosophy to the
academic info-market technology necessitates
a simultaneous re-engineering of academic
administration, inventing new academic and
educational systems, and re-energizing faculty
members' specialization in distance delivery
In this rapid knowledge-based global
free market economy, science and technology
bring nations together by facilitating the
sharing and exchange of technologies,
products and services. This dynamic mode of
thinking and behaving mandates that corporate
managers be familiar with host countries'
socio-cultural and politico-economic forces.
Thus, managers need be periodically trained
through short term executive training
All profit-making, not-for-profit, and
non-profit organizations have realized that
self-sufficiency in information technology is
becoming increasingly difficult in today's
global markets which demand more strategic
focus on viability, reliability, availability,
durability, affordability, and efficacy of
Thus, all these issues should be
periodically revisited by managers in order to
be able to make the right decision and take
appropriate action. Corporate employees need
to be infused periodically with ever changing
market values and practices.
Scientific advancement, technological
development, and econo-political changes have
caused people to strive for lifelong updates
and learning. Adult education is the center
piece for economic development and growth.
Every year, private corporations spend billions
of dollars in staff development programs.
These training programs are especially
designed for adult learning and educational
enhancement. Therefore, continuing education
is an ongoing process in all industries.
Contrary to the belief that corporate
success or failure in the globalization of a firm
is often the result of decision-making
processes in practice, in most cases it has been
observed that successful globalization depends
upon the realization of corporate ethical, moral
and legal value systems. Corporate managers
and employees need to be oriented to the ever
changing corporate mission through practical
Distance learning has provided new
opportunities for the community of learners
to alleviate their infomarket technologies. It
provides tremendous opportunities for
accommodating the economic growth and
social development of nations.
Global academic joint ventures,
partnerships in higher education, can synergize
both providers and users with tremendous
research resources. Qualitative distance
learning programs can be very cost effective
delivery and receiving systems.
The major difference between
traditional degree programs and continuing
education is the integration of natural and
artificial intelligence. That is, the integration
of Natural Cognitive Intelligence with the
technology provided Artificial Intelligence will
result in the Kinesthetic Intelligence.
Distance learning can liberalize
learners' mind through worldwide
superhighway information systems. Continuing
education is updating the knowledge and skills
of professionals with ever changing
environmental changes. It is a continuous
effort to keep specialists, researchers, and
skillful people abreast of the latest information
There should be three main objectives
in Cyber delivered education. Namely, to offer
tele-instruction in a time and place
independent mode, to enhance the
information/knowledge retention through
multimedia instructional technology, and last
but not least to provide educational credibility
for the acquired information/knowledge.
The issues that are associated with
distance learning are academic, , instructional,
behavioral and technical. These issues need
be comparatively addressed in the context of
the traditional mode of education, which will
be replaced in numerous instances.
The academic recognition of course
work, that has been completed outside of the
physical campus of the degree granting
institution, has always been a debatable
issue. Even if the courses are offered by the
institution's own faculty, accreditation
agencies frown if the number exceeds one or
two courses, let alone credit earned through
non-traditional learning modes, like cyber
However, several exclusively cyber
universities have already been accredited by
regional accrediting agencies.
Cyber education, will be the secondary
education delivery mode of the next
millennium, which will provide education to
millions, for whom education would otherwise
have been beyond reach.
At this point in time, Spring 1999, in
the U.S., well over one hundred regionally
accredited institutions of higher education
offer close to 4,000 courses via the Internet
(New Promise, 1999).
A research by the authors, as to what
today constitutes Internet delivered courses,
has indicated that the practice varies from
mailed video tapes or CD-ROMs to fully
interactive multimedia web based courses with
audio conferencing. In all cases, however,
there is instructor accessibility via e-mail, and
often by telephone as well. Furthermore,
complete undergraduate and graduate degree
programs are currently being offered. In many
cases, the courses allow open entry, so that
students may start their cyber attendance at
practically any time. This option will
eventually become the practice.
Instructional offerings over the Internet, can be complete courses, with sole Internet interaction, or may be supplementary to an in-campus course. In this case the student - faculty personal interaction remains .
Properly designed, structured and
offered Internet courses may result in
significant competitive advantage for an
educational institution. There are tremendous
financial gains ahead for the publishers of high
quality multimedia Internet deliverable
courses. Today, a very small percent of the
Internet delivered courses fall in this category.
But with time, and as appropriate course
authoring tools are developed, there will be an
abundance of Internet delivered educational
programs provided for a subscribed access,
and for free, as a public service.
Examining the trends, and the
expected windfall returns to schools, one may
foresee that degree programs will eventually
have two components, the in-campus courses
and the cyber courses, with certain courses
being offered through both media.
The way the Internet technology
advances and the way it is globally accepted,
it will not be too long before Internet course
offerings by academic institutions, will be
expected by the students, the same way
informational websites are being expected to
be on the Internet today.
Eventually numerous entire degree programs, from B.S. to Ph.D. will be offered over the Internet. Most interestingly, they will be offered not only by currently established academic institutions, but by new ones as well, that are exclusively virtual - academic institutions with no finite campus, but the entire world.
Presently, there is a debate as to the
academic status of courses and programs that
are offered via distance learning. Accrediting
agencies, administered by the old generation
of academicians, in fear of losing control over
the new world of cyber education, deny
recognition even to high quality programs.
These programs are, slowly but steadily,
comprising the global cyber campus, an
academic community, which will eventually,
establish its own scholastic standards,
accreditation criteria and its own culture.
Currently, seventy-two institutions offering
distance learning programs are accredited by
the Distance Education and Training Council.
"Distance study accreditation is an
institution-wide source of national
accreditation that covers all distance study
courses offered by an institution. It is unique
in American accreditation because it is one
based upon a method of instruction rather
than educational level or subject matter
discipline. It covers all programs, courses and
distance study endeavors of an institution,
including degree, non-degree, vocational and
avocational programs. Unlike regional or
specialized accrediting agencies, the
Accrediting Commission of the Distance
Education and Training Council provides
distance education institutions with a single
source of national recognition."(DETC,
The prime instructional considerations
in Internet delivered education are two. The
first is the technical support the instructor will
need in the preparation and delivery of the
cyber course, and the second is the
mechanism for the evaluation of the cyber
Not too long ago, professors were
using the services of graphic designers for the
preparation of visual aids, and the services of
typists for their notes. These days are past and
gone. Today, professors are computer
literate, by necessity, and are expected to
prepare their own electronic presentations,
using appropriate software applications -
Corel, Powerpoint, Harvard Graphics, and the
like. In the near future professors will be
similarly expected to use cyber courses
development tools as part of their
instructional responsibilities and develop
cyber deliverable courses (Asymetrix, 1998),
(Real Education, 1999).
Such cyber course development
applications provide users with a ready
structure, a template, where stand-alone files
(text, audio, video or animation) can be linked
to through this template and result in a
complete Internet deliverable and Internet
In a cyber instruction environment
student evaluation as well as course
evaluation, is indeed a major issue that affects
the credibility of the granted award or grades.
Its solution may take one or both of
two equally valid forms. One is the traditional
examinations, which, in this case, can be
proctored by an institutional representative.
The other is, video or audio only, live Internet
presentations, technically similar to those of
the instructor, where the student can be
verbally examined, or make a long live
multimedia presentation that may very well
reveal the level of the acquired knowledge.
Thus, eventual competency assessment is not
a viable concern, when the available
technology is being used.
It is true that cyber education does not
have the traditional campus and classroom
ambience, which is very important in the
enculturation process. But, if the cyber
education aims at only delivering instruction
and not culture, then may not be viewed as a
However, with Internet audio and
video in multi broadcasting and multi
receiving mode, we may create a very
practical live global conferencing environment.
(Real Networks, 1999). It is quite possible,
that because of its global nature, student
cyber attendance may be more interesting and
more punctual than traditional classroom
attendance. Undoubtedly, it will be most
fascinating, for once or twice a week, to be
meeting in cyberspace with classmates from
various parts of the world.
Thus, while the traditional classroom
environment is not maintained in an Internet
based instruction, a totally new concept is
being created, that of a live global cyber
classroom, with its very own merits.
Table 1 illustrates a parallel between
the Traditional Degree Education and that of
Distance Learning - two different yet similar
It has to be recognized by academic
administrations that the Internet technology,
besides being most fascinating, is evolving
very fast, and no amateur can keep track by
casually flipping through the pages of related
Mastering the Internet technology is no
more a one specialist's full time job. It requires
a dedicated multi-member staff that not only
follows the technology's evolution, but also
practices the various technological advances
in a real world educational environment.
For an academic institution, mastering the Internet technology is not a luxury, but a necessity, because without a thorough knowledge and expertise of this technology, every effort will end up in vain.
Internet tele-education literacy for the
faculty is a major and critical issue, because
faculty participation is of paramount
importance. Here, however, there are two
The first is time. In today's fast pace
world, available time is a scarce resource.
Faculty are already preoccupied with being
abreast in their own fields, and can hardly find
time to learn the Internet technology that even
outpaces the experts.
The second is lack of will, on the part
of most faculty, to leave their beloved
blackboard and chalk, and to learn new
knowledge delivery skills - that of the tele-education technology - a technology that is
useless, unless it is mastered in full.
Presenting lectures over the Internet is
not showing a video of the instructors in front
of a blackboard with their back turned to the
audience while writing solutions to problems.
Internet delivery of education is a multimedia
production, prepared for a multi-year use,
where every second of video and audio
content effectively conveys quanta of
In the classroom, an instructor may
write five words on the board and deliver a
one hour lecture. In tele-education, to re-enforces the aural delivery, the visual
content,, should be changing continuously.
Therefore, courses will have to be
redesigned, so that the visual flow, video or
animation, and aural flow, speech or music, are
both continuous and captivating.
It has to be realized that developing a
course for Internet delivery is a very serious
undertaking, like the development of a good
On the other hand, the academic as
well as the financial rewards can be very
significant. Academically, this form of learning
for many students may be their only chance to
education. Financially, for the academic
institution, a well developed cyber course
repeatedly offered can pay for itself within a
Today, information-seeking directly
identifies with the Internet, tomorrow,
education-seeking will similarly identify with
the Internet. For a major academic institution,
the question is not whether to offer, or not to
offer, tele-education via the Internet. The
question is what courses and in what timetable
and what format. With time, no academic
institution will have exclusive geographical
territories by virtue of proximity, because
Internet tele-education will be available in
every home around the globe.
In an institution, the first cyber course
may be the result of a professor's own
initiative, or a departmental pilot program.
Eventually, however, every major academic
institution will need to have an Internet tele-education department, that will administer the
institution's cyber campus. This department
headed by a dean or a vice president, will
conduct global marketing, will service the
courses and most important will strive for
technology mastering, because the future
belongs to those who learn fast..
Similarly, the future belongs to those
institutions, who can capture the power of
technology and use it to solve problems and to
capture opportunities. Much the same way, the
sailors capture the power of the wind and use
it to navigate the seas.
New Promise (1999), New Promise On-Line
Education, www.newpromise.com (April 2,
DETC (1999), Distance Education and Learning Council, www.detc.org.(April 2, 1999).
Asymetrix (1999), Toolbok II
www.asymetrix.com.(April 2, 1999).
Real Education (1999). Virtual Campus,
www.realeducation.com (April 2, 1999)
Woolf (1998). Assessing Online Courses
for the Adult Learner,
(September 2, 1998)
Real Networks, 1999. www.real.com (April
Traditional Degree Education
Distance Learning Education
1. Knowledge-Based Resources.
5. Imitative Knowledge.
6. Analytical Knowledge.
7. Communication Skills.
9. Deal-Making and
10. Gain Prerequisite
11. Understand Free
problems of employers.
14. Learn how to be
Setting Knowledge and
17. Formal Curriculum
18. Early-Life Education.
1. Technological Knowledge-Based Resources.
3. Specified Empirical application of Knowledge.
4. Comprehensive and Mechanical Self-Knowledge.
5. Imaginative and
6. Search skill-knowledge.
7. Organizational Skills.
8. Environmental Assessment and Formulation Skills.
9. Harvesting Skills.
10. Identify Career
11. Discover and Enhance Personal Competency.
Personal Strengths and
13. Apply Specific Occupational Competencies.
14. Learn how to be
Self- Employed and a
15. Obtaining coaching
16. Understanding Risk
Taking and Innovative
Knowledge and Skills.
17. Professional and
Practical and Degree-Planned Diploma.
18. Long-Life Education.
 Eddy, John, et al. 21st Century Leadership Practices in Higher Education, Education, Volume 117, Number 3, ISSN:0013-1172. Spring/1997, pp. 327-331.
 Eddy, John, et al. Technology Assisted Education, Education, Volume 117, Number 3, ISSN:0013-1172.Spring/1997, pp. 478-480.
 McCabe, Lester. Global Perspective
Development, Education, Volume 118,
Number 1, ISSN:0013-1172. Fall/1997, pp.
Dr. George Kostopoulos is a Professor of Information Systems at the College of Business Administration at the Texas A&M International University in Laredo, Texas. He holds an M.S. and a Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the Arizona State University (1971), and An M.S. in Economics from the California State Polytechnic University (1977). He is the author of two books in computers and in economics, and of numerous papers appearing in refereed journals and conference proceedings. His professional interest is the Internet, as it applies to Electronic Commerce and Global Education Delivery, while his academic interest is International Education. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Dr. Kamal Dean Parhizgar is a Professor
of Management at the College of Business
Administration at the Texas A&M
International University in Laredo, Texas. He
holds a Post-Doctoral Research Degree in
Management from the Kellogg School of
Management, Northwestern University
(1972); MBA and MHA Degrees from the
University of Teheran, Iran (1966). He has
published eleven books in the field of
Management and more than 100 articles in
refereed journals and conference
proceedings. His main area of teaching and
research is multicultural organizational