Magazine article Academe

Web-Based Education Commission Issues Report

Magazine article Academe

Web-Based Education Commission Issues Report

Article excerpt

The 1998 reauthorization of the Higher Education Act charged the Web-Based Education Commission with examining the educational potential of the Internet. The commission, composed of policy makers, members of Congress, educators, and distance education providers, issued its report in December. Members heard testimony from leaders in the field of education, including AAUP general secretary Mary Burgan. The report concludes that Web-based education "holds extraordinary promise," and it encourages the new administration to "embrace an 'e-leaming' agenda as a centerpiece of our nation's federal education policy."

The report's recommendations focus more on ways to remove barriers to Internet use in education than on how to determine when such use is appropriate. The report concedes, however, that the Internet "is not a panacea for every problem in education," and it encourages the public and private sectors to develop high-quality online educational content "that meets the highest standards of educational excellence."

The commission recommends that the federal government come up with priorities for the kinds of content to be developed, devise technical standards for the design of online courses, and review and possibly revise federal studentaid regulations that tie financial support to traditional classroom-based credit hours. One rule, for example, limits full financial-aid packages to full-time students (those taking at least twelve credit hours a semester). …

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