Idaho

Western Virtual University Becoming Reality Batt Says Idaho A Full Partner In Planning And Execution Of The Multimedia School

The future is already here, and Gov. Phil Batt says the Western Governors University will help Idaho plug into it.

“It was less than a year ago that the Western Governors’ Association met in Las Vegas to discuss the concept of what we then called a ‘virtual university,”’ Batt said Monday.

“The idea of a virtual university didn’t surprise me. What did surprise me was the ease with which Idaho has become a full participant in the planning and in the execution.”

Batt opened a video teleconference to update faculty and administrators at Idaho colleges and universities on progress toward opening the multimedia Western Governors University next July in 13 states.

Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming have become part of the WGU effort. Texas, Alaska, California, Kansas and South Dakota are not participating.

The WGU is planned as a nonprofit, independent institution that will grant its own degrees and certificates as well as brokering degrees and other programs offered by participating colleges and universities - state and private - in the states involved.

Batt said Western Governors’ Association members were only facing reality at the Las Vegas meeting.

“The discussion was not whether we wanted our citizens to take part in distance learning, or teleconferencing, or electronic education, or other new forms of delivering information, but whether we were going to be left behind in the dust,” he said.

“The issue is not whether we can expect new ways of delivering education. That’s already happening. The issue was how to sort through everything that is already available. The Western Governors University should be a way to put a shape and order to this process so that Idahoans can choose what they want from this vast menu and be assured that their efforts will be rewarded.”

Robert Albrecht, a University of Colorado faculty member appointed by Colorado Gov. Roy Romer to be co-director of the WGU, said getting the project off the ground is a difficult and complex job.

“This is not plug and play,” Albrecht said. “This is building an institution from the ground up.”

But he stressed that the WGU was not intended to replace or compete with existing state or private colleges and universities.

“We think of the Western Governors University as growing out of those existing institutions,” Albrecht said.

Sally Johnstone, director of the Western Cooperative for Education Telecommunications at the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, demonstrated how students will be able to use an on-line “navigator” or “catalog adviser” to access WGU programs and information via computer.

xxxx WGU Information about the Western Governors University can be accessed on the Internet at www.westgov.org/smart/vu and www.wiche.edu.



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