General Comments

Delivering Courses Internationally

Comment from Received
Mick Healey 20 February 99
Iain Hay 5 March 99
Janice Monk 11 March 99
Michael Solem 13 March 99
Ifan Shepherd 15 March 99

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Mick Healey, Cheltenham & Gloucester College of Higher Education, UK

I like the point that relationship distance is more important than physical distance, though most of the paper, understandably, focuses on issues and experiences of teaching and learning at a physical distance especially overseas.

I suspect that many institutions will be faced with mixed groups of students wanting to take the same course, some at a distance and some on campus. One solution is that all the students take the 'distance' version. Economically this may be the cheapest solution, but many 'conventional' campus-based students would object if a significant proportion of their courses were delivered in this way. I suspect that many institutions may move into this area by developing a distance-based version of their campus-based course, while continuing to deliver the latter as normal. This provides flexibility for students to move between modes, but is, however, an expensive option.

It would be interesting to know to what extent geography departments are engaged in:

  1. Distance courses
  2. Mixed distance/campus-based courses
and how this varies between countries.

Are the issues for managing mixed distance/campus-based courses different from those in managing separate distance and campus-based courses?

Mick Healey
GEMRU, Cheltenham & Gloucester College of Higher Education, Francis Close Hall, Swindon Road, Cheltenham, GL50 4AZ, UK
Tel. +44 (0)1242 543364; Fax +44 (0)1242 532997; Email



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Iain Hay, Flinders University of South Australia

The authors raised the issue of course fees and income. We do have a problem here. We are advocating a collaborative approach to education in a western political economy characterised by 'fee-for-service'. It would be interesting to hear peoples' ideas on some of the ways this sort of problem might be resolved?

Iain Hay
School of Geography, Population and Environmental Management, Flinders University of South Australia, GPO Box 2100, Adelaide, SA 5001, AUSTRALIA



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Janice Monk, University of Arizona, USA

The paper raises many important questions crossing philosophical and practical lines. I have one question to add. Who do we see as the range/diversity of clients for distance education - and what might that mean in terms of differences in levels of background and expectation among "clients" and for the range of projects that the network might choose to develop.

Janice Monk
University of Arizona, USA
E-mail jmonk@U.Arizona.EDU



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Michael Solem, University of Colorado, USA

First, I salute the authors for identifying key issues on a newly emerging curricular model in geography. This topic is particularly challenging because there are not many examples of international courses to study. Of course, this presents an opportunity to think carefully about how and for what purpose the Internet can be used to deliver courses internationally, and the authors are to be commended for directing our attention to this matter now rather than later.

I would suggest we start by looking at our own experiences with collaborative education in geography, especially in light of curriculum development projects like the Virtual Geography Department (VGD). We can learn important lessons from the VGD as to how collaboration on teaching and learning can be achieved and maintained. This question is part of my dissertation research, and I am reporting the results of a qualitative analysis of the VGD at a paper session in Honolulu.

Also, I think we ought to consider how the Web can support the delivery of learning experiences to an international audience, and not limit ourselves to thinking only in terms of courses for credit and profit. How can our materials be enhanced through international perspectives? Would it be better to start efforts at the lesson or unit level of instruction, rather than at the course level? How can the Web be used to facilitate interaction between international students, such as in a course run concurrently at multiple institutions?

I look forward to discussing these questions at the symposium.

Michael Solem
University of Colorado, USA
E-mail Michael.Solem@Colorado.EDU



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Ifan Shepherd, Middlesex University, UK

This identifies a useful range of ideas, and flags several important questions that need to be answered at the symposium. This complements paper 2 at the level of course delivery - quite a number of the concerns addressed there are echoed here.

The 'Business Model Issues' section could perhaps include a discussion of two further concerns: whether courseware is to be charged for or free, and whether the materials are to be offered as 'closed' or 'open' resources (cf Linux).

In the 'Professional Issues' section, the question of ownership has, I think, always been with us. At Middlesex University where I work, the institution has negotiated a deal that awards itself IPRs over course descriptions, but assigns IPRs to staff over their teaching materials. Maybe there's a model here that could be more widely used? As for the working year, I think there is much to be discussed here, particularly in relation to recent calls for JIT assessment.

Finally, in the 'Futures' section, I find the issue of determining how much of a Geography curriculum is 'local' and how much is 'international' to be extremely problematic, not just in terms of content, but also in terms of delivery.

Ifan Shepherd
Marketing Academic Group, Middlesex University Business School, Middlesex University, The Burroughs, Hendon, London, NW4 4BT, UK
Tel +44 (0)181 362 5819; Fax +44 (0)181 202 1539; E-mail

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