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Innovation in Information Security

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If you build it, will they come?

Despite many people exhorting that all it takes to get online traffic is to build it, and people will come, sometimes it doesn't turn out that way, as the University of Illinois is currently finding out.

Earlier this year, the University of Illinois set out to establish an online campus that would allow students to obtain degrees online, however the response has been underwhelming, to say the least.

Online degree programs have always been regarded with dubiousness, however the idea of delivering degrees online is only one step removed from degrees by correspondence that many universities offer for students who work or otherwise can't attend classes full-time. Having ready access to a network connection means that coursework can include media and improved learning aids that can not really be delivered through the mail.

Expecting 5,000 students by the five year mark, fewer than 150 students have taken up the opportunity with the University of Illinois since the system went online.

One of the biggest problems with the University of Illinois' online campus seems to be that the whole concept relied upon University departments creating new coursework and material in order to create online degree programs. It has rapidly become apparent that there aren't too many departments with the time or interest to create new coursework for the system.

This is an excellent demonstration of what can happen when you don't adequately plan for how a concept is to be implemented before actually trying to implement it. Social networks rely upon their users for most of their content and relevance, but it seems that online degree programs (at least the legitimate ones) aren't as simple to establish. Perhaps a better approach would be to have arranged with the various high demand courses to be created ahead of time and then placed online. Achieving accreditation, as suggested in the article, could help somewhat.

28 September 2008

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