Educational Administration, Department of


Date of this Version



LaCost, Barbara Y.; Isernhagen, Jody; and Dlugosh, Larry (2000) "Collaborating on Web-Based Instruction in Higher Education: Benefits and Risks," Educational Considerations: Vol. 28: No. 1. 10.4148/0146-9282.1308


The United States spends $600 billion on education of all types each year, making it the second largest industry after health care. Dunn (2000) estimates that the typical citizen will need the equivalent of 30 semester credits of coursework every 10 years to stay current with coming changes in their fields and lives. Innovative ways of providing such access to education, an absolute imperative in the merging global knowledge society, are required. Distance education provides access through multiple technologies and oftentimes includes some on-site instruction (Dunn, 2000; LaCost, 1998). Networked education (in higher education often referred to as a virtual university) furnishes a web of educational providers that distribute services to the client at the time, place, pace and style desired by the client. In the 1997-98 academic year, postsecondary institutions reported that the most popular delivery technologies were ansynchronous Internet instruction (58%), two-way interactive video (54%), and one-way pre-recorded video (47%). (U.S. Department of Education, 1999). Hundreds of university degrees are now available through distance education; one estimate suggests that 50,000 university-level courses are now available through distance-education delivery systems (Dunn, 2000). The quality of education obtained is determined both by the client (through informed choice) and by a variety of approving and accrediting bodies.

Collaboration is a requirement for future on-line education. Collaboration provides multiple arrangements and flexible alliances among participants. There is now greater availability of grant money for forging collaborations between and among institutions and accrediting bodies For example, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation is interested in funding collaborative technical projects (Young, 2000), and the U.S. Department of Education has announced $10 million in awards to higher education institutions and nonprofit organizations to assist in providing access to distance-learning opportunities (Confessore, 1999).