Education on Demand

Professor John M. McCann
Fuqua School of Business
Duke University

July 1993

(Revised May 1995)

Education will come in packets, or personalized doses, so that we can get the right education, at the right time, in the right amount.[1]

This document introduces the concept of education on demand and explores the implications for a business school such as the Fuqua School of Business (FSB) at Duke University. It was written as a first step in preparing our business school for the challenges and opportunities emerging from advances in computers and communications technologies. I shared it with my colleagues in the summer of 1993, and placed it on the World Wide Web in the summer of 1995. In the summer of 1993, our school's connection to the outside world was via BITNET, and we used an IBM PROFS system for internal email; we did not have direct Internet connections.


During my 1991-92 sabbatical, I studied how technology will likely change the practice of management and business, in general, and marketing in particular. My studies revealed, among other things, that there is a very large industry emerging that involves the word multimedia: the computer-based integration of graphics, animation, video, music, speech, and text to communicate intellectual content to readers. I attended a briefing at IBM in which one of their experts predicted that the market for multimedia will be at least $55 billion per year by the end of this decade, and that most of this market involves entertainment. This figure agrees with other forecasts I have seen, but it seems small when compared with the size of the new industry being formed by the merger of the consumer-electronics, television, telecommunication, entertainment, and news industries. John Scully, the CEO of Apple Computer, estimates that this new industry will have annual sales of $3.5 trillion by the year 2000.

This huge number has caught the attention of a large number of companies. Every existing technology, entertainment, and communications company is involved in finding a way to bring about this market, and new ventures are forming daily. They are all racing to take advantage of the market opportunities that arise when 1) powerful multimedia computers are cheap enough for mass purchase, and 2) switchable, interactive video is available to the homes through wide-spread installation of fiber optics in the local loop. Number 1 is coming in 1993, and Number 2 will exist later this decade. For instance, Bell Atlantic is gearing up to offer video on demand that will allow a person at home to watch the movie s/he wants to watch when s/he wants to watch it. And compression technologies are being perfected that may allow this type of service over existing copper wires or cables, thus speeding up the arrival of switch able video in the home.

The big action is coming from the formation of consortia such as First Cities which includes Apple, Bellcore, Corning, Kodak, Philips, Tandem, Kaleida (an Apple and IBM joint multimedia joint venture), and several telephone and cable companies. Their goal is to deploy a multimedia interactive network by early 1995 that would "provide multimedia information when, where, and how you want it -- in your home, your car, an airplane, or while you're walking down the street."[2] The proponents of such networks believe they will have major impacts on the way we live, learn, and work. Recent testimony before Congress points to an impact that is on the same scale as the Interstate Highway Bill. Futurists observe that our current cities were built around transportation routes and/or raw material sites. They point out that the coming information-based economy and world-wide networks will allow people to live and work where ever they choose

A side benefit from these home entertainment developments is the business market for multimedia. The hundreds of billions of dollars that will be invested to wire and equip the home will drive the technologies in directions that yield wondrous capabilities for the application of multimedia in business and education. In particular, they hold the promise to completely transform business education. Today, the acquisition and the application of intellectual content is almost completely uncoupled. People study and learn at places and times that are distinctly different from the places and times that they apply their knowledge. They go to school to learn, and they go to work to apply. It is the rare incidence that they learn what they need to know at the point and place that they need to know it. The emerging technologies can change this existing world to one characterized by education on demand . That is, to a world in which a business person can get an education on a business topic at the point and place that s/he needs the education. Hence the movement that is bringing about video on demand will enable education on demand.

The focus on video and entertainment is only one aspect of the changing role of technology. Consider the strategies of Apple and Microsoft. John Scully, Apple's CEO, is touting the concept of Knowledge Navigation in which a computer contains knowledge in all formats, and the user navigates through the knowledge base to find what is needed. Bill Gates, Microsoft's CEO, has his own concept, Information at Your Fingertips, that is driving that firm's product development and marketing strategy. Gates foresees a networked world in which an individual can treat all information as if it is stored on his/her own computer and can thus access it with a few key strokes or mouse movements. As this world evolves, and it surely will, it will enable the related concept of Education at Your Fingertips.

It is not only the big companies that are innovating in the provision of on-line access to information and education material. The On-line Bookstore has been created to allow "PC users to browse through books on their PCs for $5 an hour. For another $5, they'll be able to download a book's entire contents onto a PC. Customers enter the bookstore by connecting to Internet, a vast public network that lets users send data or text between PCs. Buyers also will be able to order traditional books from on-line -- or even converse with authors by computer."[3] The on-line books will have text and images, including color photos.

The desktop computer that will be used for these applications is far beyond what we use on a daily basis. We may see the equivalent of today's super computer on the desktop by the end of this decade. This will permit complete integration of all forms of media, and will allow the use of voice as a means of interacting with the computer, which is the cornerstone of Apple's Knowledge Navigation concept.

These developments constitute an upcoming break point that may have major impacts on business schools during this decade. The losers will be those schools that are fixed in place, ones that require their students to come to them. The winners will be those schools that recognize the potential and can re-orient themselves to take advantage of the enabling technologies as they become available. An emerging model for this orientation is for a business or a school to recognize that it 1) has a faculty that owns intellectual content and 2) must become a publisher of that content in many different vehicles, one of which is the traditional classroom. Today, we (FSB) expend almost all of our resources on generating intellectual content in the form of paper and computer files. This unorganized and diffused knowledge is our primary resource, and we have the opportunity to use technology to manage it, to convert it into realized wealth via transforming ourselves into a publisher: the collaborative collection, creation, editing, distribution, and management of your corporation's collective knowledge[4].

Today, we write material that is published in academic journals and books, i.e., that is published by others. And, we publish our own material in the classroom. These outlets will continue to exist in the future, but they will be augmented by electronic delivery mechanisms. And we will broaden our definition of a document, perhaps by adopting the definition in common use at the Xerox Corporation: a document is recorded information structured for human comprehension[5]. Under this definition, documents include images, audio, animations, video, and live software. In a lot of ways, these documents will be actual software that causes them to change upon demand or upon exposing them to new information.

The technology-driven changes described above are increasing our ability to supply education upon demand. There are also forces at work on the demand side as well, both inside and outside the university. The increasing cost of education, at all levels, is bringing strong pressure to reduce costs, and one path to cost reduction is via increasing the efficiency of education delivery. The estimated $450 billion spent on education in this country every year is not lost on people looking for new markets for existing and new products. Multimedia and interactive technologies provide one methodology for improving education that is being pursued on a lot of fronts.

One of the stumbling blocks for people pursuing these opportunities is the existing nature of our education system that places emphasis on the degree and not on acquired knowledge. Thus we will see increasing pressure to change our culture, perhaps in the direction espoused by a critic of our current education system.

In the new economy, mindcraft replaces handicraft as the main form of work. The mindcraft economy will replace degrees and diplomas with precise instruments that certify attainment of competency. [6]

It is easy to predict that we will hear more of this talk as technologies improve and people lust after the $450 billion expenditure on education.

On the corporate front, newly emerging organizational structures are making it difficult for people within an organization to leave to attend multi-week executive education programs. Reduced head counts result in long work weeks and thus make it difficult to get away. The replacement of the command and control organizational structure with a more team oriented approach means that a member of a team cannot simply leave for four weeks to attend an education program. The first positions to be cut during layoffs tend to be the staff specialists, the people with the narrow knowledge who provide expertise and education on demand to the generalist in the organization. While these forces have reduced an individual's ability to attend education programs at a foreign site, the rapid changing nature of the world requires people to continue their education on an on-going basis.

Firms are building the infrastructure for education on demand. The changing nature of organizations has caused most firms to invest in equipment for increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of communications within and outside the firm. Firms are installing fiber optic cables, wide-area networks, digital communications switches, wireless LANs, video broadcast networks, and video-conference facilities to support this communication. The Clinton administration will surely expand the publicly supported networks. Al Gore has been the leading Congressional proponent of networks such as Internet, and networks played a major role during the Democratic campaign. Thus it is very likely that a high speed worldwide network will be in place in the next few years, thus facilitating our ability to deliver education on demand.

Why Would We Do It?

An obvious question arises: Why would we want to get involved in something like this? One answer is that it will exist, and just as the existence of a tall and dangerous mountain leads some people to climb it, education on demand provides a challenge for some who like doing new things. Another answer is that it will prove to be very lucrative for some because a very small fraction of $450 billion is a very large number. The profitable ones will be those who learn how to use the technologies to leverage the valuable time of the educators.

Another answer is that it provides a way to continue the growth of FSB by leveraging our existing faculty and facilities. Another answer involves the sorry state of the academic market today and the expected plight of Ph.D. students who enter the job market. If we innovate with education on demand, our Ph.D. students can be given knowledge and experience that will give them a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

Another answer flows from Tom Keller's recent statements to the School that our environment has changed in ways that make us appear to be expenseive, at best, and irrelevant at worst. This leads some to conclude that the business school models are all broken and that we must find a new model. The use of multimedia computing and communication technology provides the basis for a new model.

How Would It Work?

Since the technology is exploding on many fronts, there are many ways to deliver education on demand and I will try to structure them in this section. First, let's divide the formats into static and interactive to denote the professor/student relationship. Static education formats include books, papers, videotapes, audio tapes, and lectures (live and broadcast) that do not permit questions. Some of us provide extensive lecture notes for the students, software that students use to apply our models, and reading lists for advanced study. The library is an obvious education on demand facility, but one that is only available to students in residence at FSB. Our existing interactive formats include case-oriented and lecture/question classes. Office hours is another form of this format, as are the occasional phone call from a student.

How would these two formats map into an education environment where the student is not resident at FSB? On one level, we already provide this service through our publications. We could tape our lectures and sell them, as is done by the Harvard Business School. We could place the video tapes on a "video server" from which a student can download the video to his/her site. Soon, we will be able to allow the student to view the video while it runs from the server. Similarly, we could put papers, books, lecture notes, and audio tapes on similar servers. Or, we could put this material on CD ROMs and deliver via the mail. We could charge an annual subscription fee ("tuition"), or we could price our materials on a pay-as-you learn basis.

This format will not carry us very far because it simply delivers static material via new means. The answer lies in efficiently providing effective interactive educational experiences that help a person take action when needed. The key to efficiency is to be interactive without having the professor as a player in most of the interactions. Some professors are already doing a rudimentary form of this when they provide students with software for use in exploring a subject or model. While the software does not allow the student to directly interact with the professor, s/he does interact with the subject matter in ways that the professor had to plan in advance. This is a form of interaction because it involves an interplay between the student and the software; reciprocal action and reaction is occurring. The software is the professor's agent, and the quality of the interaction depends upon 1) the degree to which the professor has transferred his/her expertise to the agent, and 2) the quality of the software package that contains the expertise.

We can get a glimpse of some rudimentary interactive technologies by examining Microsoft Windows. Please keep in mind the things I am going to be describing are new; most of them did not exist 12 months ago. This means that we are only seeing the early precursors of future technologies and interactive education applications.

Pull down the Help menu from the Program Manager's menu bar, and select Windows Tutorial. Follow the instructions to get the Mouse tutorial (type M), and do as you are told. This is a very simple form of education on demand via interactive software, but I found it to be very effective when I assigned it to our second year MBA students.

Other examples are scattered throughout Microsoft's products. Pull down the Help menu in Excel, select Learning Microsoft Excel, and you will see a very basic form of interaction. Microsoft has introduced Wizards that provide both education and guidance in performing a task. Open an Excel spreadsheet, put a few numbers in some cells, select them, and click on the graph icon on Excel's icon bar. When the cursor changes to a +, hold down the left mouse button and drag the cursor to outline a box. When you release the mouse button, the ChartWizard appears to work you through the five steps involved in specifying the desired graph.

This is an example of interactive education on demand that is very effective and very successful. Microsoft is putting Wizards in the new versions of all their products, and has come up with a new format in their new database product, Access. The following is the way Microsoft describes Cue Cards:

Replacing the standard tutorial that typically requires you to follow a set path, Cue Cards operates more like a coach, helping you to work with your database as you learn. Use Cue Cards and Microsoft Access at the same time, without having to switch back and forth between them. Cue Cards walks you through common Microsoft Access tasks step by step. You can use Cue Cards to help you create an entire database, or you can call on it when you want help with a specific task.

Shown on the left is an example of a Cue Card that contains a list of the steps one might use in building a database. If you click on one of the buttons, you get other cards that take you though the steps involved in a particular task. These cards stay on the screen and help you accomplish the task. They are hypertext in nature in the sense that topics are cross linked, thus allowing you to either follow the linear flow of the cards or to jump around to other cards via the buttons. They also allow you to get into the traditional Help system, like the one accessible from Excel. This is a truer hypertext system: it text contains a combination of static words and "hot" words. When you click on a hot word, you are either taken to another place in the document, or a new window appears that elaborates on the word.

All of this Help stuff is just an example of what can be done with software technologies that are very new. In these examples, we see how Microsoft has applied them to teaching someone how to do a computer task. It is easy for me to see how I could use the same approaches to teach people how to do anything that involves a process, such as the following:

These educational materials do not have to be limited to text and pictures. If you worked through the Using the Mouse tutorial mentioned above, you saw an example of an animation. It is now easy to produce an animation, embed it in a document, and run it by clicking on an icon or picture. You could animate the solution of the LP, or show how different ARIMA models play out over time.

You can also embed audio in a document that can be played with the click of a mouse. The really new technology involves video, which will open up education on demand to the MTV generation! The following section delves more into video, and discusses some of the related delivery approaches.

Video Documents

The key to delivering high quality education is the integration of text, images, audio, and perhaps video. When video is standalone, it is best delivered in analog form on a videotape. But when you want to integrate video with other material and make it interactive, you move to digital formats and run into a delivery problem. The delivery problem has been one of bandwidth ... how do you economically deliver this stuff on demand. One answer is to increase the bandwidth via technologies such as CD ROMs and fiber optic cable. The other answer is to reduce the need for bandwidth by compressing the original material so that it needs less space for storage and transport. Both solutions are in place today, and things will continue to improve because companies like AT&T see their future tied to what they claim is the Video Communications Decade:

The 1990's will be the video communications decade. Two-way telecommunications connections will be used, in whole or in part, to provide video communications among friends and business colleagues, and to provide a wide variety of educational and entertainment video material to homes, schools, and businesses. Consumers will originate and create video material, as well as interactively select and receive it.[7]

Notice that the AT&T video communications decade contains the statement that consumers will originate and create video material. Nicholas Negroponte, the head of MIT's Media Lab, points out that when we move to the new digital standard for television, video will become "nothing but a bit stream,"[8] and that we will all become "bit blasters." The transformation of video, text, and audio to digital format will open up the supply of producers of digital material just as the personal computers opened the flood gate for material produced by word processors, spreadsheets, and presentation packages. Video and audio production software will become a member of this list of tools for performing a task and producing an end result. Thus we must be prepared to accept a new view of multimedia authoring: the user-centered view:

There are two models of multimedia authoring:
- User-centered: The producer is also the consumer is also the producer.
- Traditional: There are a few producers and many consumers.

The user-centered model, with the producer as consumer, draws parallels with the use of personal computers in general and desktop publishing in particular. The enormous power of the tools means that previous consumers of newsletters, flyers, or typeset pages suddenly become producers of their own typeset pages. The user-centered model predicts that consumers of sound and motion video will take up their own recorders and camcorders and produce music and home videos. Although not necessarily of the highest professional quality, these productions will be good enough for most purposes, will become very popular, and will certainly provide a new outlet for the creative talents of many current personal computer users. [9]

Faculty and students will be the ones to produce multimedia material for use in education and business.

Digitally formatted video can be delivered on optical media like CD ROM, magnetic media like Bernoulli disks, direct feed from a satellite or cable system, and via new telephone facilities that can switch video. The student can view it on a television set or on a VGA monitor, where it can appear in a window or can consume the entire screen. We could easily beam a standard lecture onto the students desktop. Microsoft has released a new product, Video for Windows, that adds a Video Player to the standard Windows tools, thus allowing video to be stored on a disk (magnetic or optical) and played in a window alongside other standard windows. You can now integrate video sequences into documents. I have a Word for Windows document that contains a picture of a rocket on a launch pad. When I click on the picture, I get a video of the rocket being launched along with the roar of the engines.

Not only have these new technologies brought video into Windows, they have opened the door to the low cost production of video. I have Video Spigot, a card that goes into my computer that allows me to capture, digitize, and store on my disk video from a video camera or a TV feed. So, I could deliver a short lecture while sitting at my desk and looking into my VCR. It would be captured and placed on my disk. I would then bring up VideoDirector and edit the video material on my computer. I could then run it through a compression algorithm, embed it into a word processing document, and deliver it via the network. Or, I could copy it onto transportable media, and send it out via Federal Express. Or, I could place it on a server (a large disk drive connected to the network or to a video switch operated by a telephone company) where it could be accessed when needed by the student. This server could be in my office, in the FSB computer center, or at the telephone company.

The Technology Imperative

My arguments for this new form of education has been based on a supply argument: since technology makes it possible to do this. we should do it. But this does not seem to be a logical approach because we should be looking at the customer for our service. Why would anyone want to pay our prices for education on demand? They have not been doing it, why would they want it now? As is my normal practice, I will turn to the writing of someone who knows more than I do about the topic. James Brian Quinn of Dartmouth has been studying the impact of technology for years, and he points us to the demand side of the equation.

New technologies have made it possible to disaggregate, delegate, and manage work at much more decentralized and refined levels -- not only within an enterprise but across enterprises -- at a scale and scope never feasible before.[10]

Quinn tells us that this is possible, and it does not take much additional research to recognize that it is happening. Just as technology makes it possible to push managerial work down the organization, it can also be used to bring the necessary education to those people who are assuming the new roles. When things were centralized and managed at the top, people got their knowledge via experience, degree programs, and Executive Education programs. But when many people start doing what a few used to do, where does the education come from? You might be able to send one person to Duke for a crash course, but can you send a hundred? As managerial work becomes diffused throughout the extended organization (into what some people call the Virtual Corporation), should not managerial education follow?

Quinn gives us some more help here with a sweeping comment:

With rare exceptions, the economic and producing power of a modern corporation lies more in its intellectual and service capabilities than in its hard assets. ... Virtually all public and private enterprises are becoming dominantly repositories and coordinators of intellect, i.e., 'knowledge-based' or 'intelligent' enterprises.' [11]

This view, which seems to be shared by an increasingly large number of scholars, says that the primary corporate asset is knowledge. There is related view that says that knowledge becomes obsolete and thus must be replenished. I seem to recall that our most learned Dean has said that it decays in 5 years or so.

So, the logic is simple. Corporations are collections of people who apply their knowledge. As you decentralize managerial work, you must provide the knowledge to an increasingly large pool of people. Thus the demand for education on demand. And, knowledge decays and new people arrive, producing a continued demand for education on demand.

Whither Do We Wander?

Putting expertise into software and delivering it on a firm's computers is only one way that education on demand could work. We could make it much more interactive by allowing people in the firm to communicate with the author. We could do this via electronic mail or by telephone. We could do it via a 900 number, giving us a direct billing mechanism for my time. We could use video phones to enhance the communication. We could use computer to computer communications facilities such as a new system being offered soon by IBM:

Person-to-Person, a software package designed to let computer users participate in on-line conferences using share electronic "chalkboards" and real-time, full-motion video. They should be able to share --- in real time --- documents, spreadsheets, images, mail, sound, and video.[12]

IBM is only one of many firms who are introducing such products. For instance, Northern Telecom has developed Visit, a package that connects PCs over ISDN telephone lines.[13]

This type of interactive education would obviously be more valuable to firms than simple education in software, and would require a different level of tuition. But it also leads to a broader view of where these facilities might lead us. If I could prepare a software document that teaches a person how to prepare a sales pitch using scanner data, could I not go the next step? Could I not prepare software that actually prepares the document on demand? This leads us from education on demand to insights on demand, a topic that I have spent the last 7 years exploring. The answer to the question is: Yes, I could and it is easy.

This line of thinking leads us into a new realm, one that is foreign to most of us because we live in a world where we are employees. Although everyone recognizes that we own the intellectual capital that we create through our research, we need the University in order to deliver it. We need the buildings, the classrooms, the administrators, etc. We keep our knowledge private, and only let it out within the confines of the classroom or our esoteric journals. But what happens when people like us put our knowledge in software, and thus make it available beyond the walls of the University? This is a very interesting question, and one that is being addressed on a number of fronts. Consider how one person looks at it:

The creation of knowledge through learning and the embodiment of knowledge in software now hold the key to wealth. ... Ownership of capital, particularly in the form of intellectual property, from now onward will be progressively more important to personal and family income than the performance of 'labor.' ... As intellectual property becomes more central to the valuation of business, and as most 'production' work is eventually taken over by machines, workers in most fields will want compensation in the form of 'points' or 'residuals.' That is, a share of the ownership of capital. [14]

This logic leads to the adoption of an income plan that rewards professors for 1) generating new knowledge (i.e., research) and 2) embodying that knowledge in software (i.e., teaching). This gives us a direct link between research, teaching, and income ... a link that has been missing and needed. The more research I do, the higher my income if I embody it in software. Since this would lead to a stress on applied research, the school must find ways to augment this incentive system to produce a balance of basic and applied research. We can see how this is done by looking in the Duke Medical Center, where the professors who practice in the clinics and hospital are paid for their efforts by the Private Diagnostic Clinic organizations. The profits from these partnerships are used to support the basic research programs.

There is one aspect of this scenario that may be bothersome to some: the idea that knowledge can be embodied in software. This idea has been the key result of my recent research, and I am not the only person holding this view. In an examination of the role of computing in the 1990s, Tennant and Heilmeier made the following prediction:

Expect formal knowledge to be published in executable form, not just in textbooks in the mid to late 1990s. ... Much formal knowledge is not used today because it is too difficult to learn how to apply it. Linear programming, statistical inference, queuing theory, and Markov chains would be more widely applied if they were more accessible.[15]

He's Crazy

As I think about this stuff, I get excited because it fits my view of how technology is changing the world. I get more excited when I remember that my view of the world is pretty unique, which leads me to recognize that the first-mover advantage is available to us. But then I get depressed when I look at the flip side of having a unique view: you are likely to think I am crazy. Worse yet, that might be the correct view ... I might be crazy. This may prove to be all "pie in the sky" stuff and not go anywhere. Or, it could prove to be enormously successful.

So, I can envision dozens of responses to these ideas, such as the following:

This may be a crazy idea indeed. Or, it may be crazy for FSB (and/or for the faculty) because we have a successful program and faculty who feel secure and satisfied in their work. Providing education in this manner may not be very desirable and may be deemed too risky. This is the situation faced by all established (some would say entrenched) companies when there is a technological breakpoint. Just look at IBM and GM today, or the four railroads that appear on my Monopoly set.

But Others Are Crazy Too

Recent negotiations between Congress, university computing officials, and telephone companies are moving forward a bill to grow the Internet into a National Information Network to link all businesses and universities, along with a large fraction of the homes in the U.S.[16] This legislation removes the government subsidy from the Internet, moves it to the private sector, and provides millions of dollars of funds to subsidize the connections to the commercial networks. Additional funds, perhaps hundreds of millions of dollars, are likely to become available from NSF and other agencies to pay for equipment and the development of educational material for use on the network.

Meanwhile, Internet continues to expand. For instance, videoconferencing is now possible over Internet, with the current schemes delivering one- or two-way videoconferences to desktop computers. The goal is to "leverage the Internet's expansive infrastructure so millions of users can eventually participate in meetings, lectures and other activities previously off-limits because of cost and time constraints."[17]

An example of this type of activity is an upcoming demonstration by Professor Kevin Jeffay of UNC of full-color, full-motion videoconferencing through the Internet data communications network. This demonstration will be part of the "Global Lecture Hall" videoconference of the U.S.-Russian Electronic Distance Education System. Another example includes the use of CU-SeeMe software (developed at Cornell University) in the NSF's Global Schoolhouse Project, an endeavor to allow junior high students worldwide to communicate with each other, teachers, and scientists. CU-SeeMe delivers black-and-white video to Mac computers connected to Internet.

One of the leading institutions in advanced networking research is in our backyard: the Center for Communications at the Microelectronics Center of North Carolina. They are involved with UNC in a major NSF grant to deliver gigabytes of data over a fiber optic network between MCNC and UNC, as well as with a new consortium of companies (IBM, Sun Microsystems, etc.) who are using Internet videoconferencing facilities to develop Internet videoconferencing technology.[18]

Our primary exposure to networking is via BITNET, and it is also undergoing signficant change. BITNET started as an un-organized, volunteer-supported network, and it is now part of the Corporation for Research and Educational Networking (CREN), which has big plans for it. A recent BITNET newsletter reports on the plans to use BITNET to grow a virtual university, one that contains resources on the network that can be utilized by any and all physical universities.

It is not only the network providers who are talking about a virtual university, organizations are being formed to bring them to life. Stanford, MIT, Columbia, RPI, Boston, and Penn State are initiating a "distance learning project that will bring graduate engineering classes into the workplace ... the colleges and companies are planning to connect over telephone lines and to use 'videoconferencing' technology that lets people at different sites see and hear one another. ... Their corporate partners in the effort, called the Collaboration for Interactive Visual Distance Learning (CIVDL), are AT&T, PictureTel Corporation, 3M, and United Technologies Corporation."[19] The founders of CIVDL refer to it as the "first virtual university that uses video teleconferencing."

The project will put students in the home university in contact with fellow students who are working engineers. The goal is to thus enhance the on-site education experience and to provide an important source of revenue for the six universities.

Companies such as those listed above are thinking and planning about education on demand. For instance, IBM's Corporate Education department has defined the following attributes for internal education in the year 2000:

This list provides a good definition of Education on Demand. All of these crazy people are bringing about a new world of communication and collaboration that could dramatically alter the nature of business education.


  1. Based upon a statement by Bart Faber (President of R.R. Donnelley & Sons Information Services Group, the world's largest printer), "Traditional Publishing Takes Digitized Twist," Marketing News, January 4, 1993, p. 4. Faber used the word information where I have used the word education.
  2. Bruce Sidran, Executive Director of First Cities, quoted in David Kirkpatrick, "Hot New PC Services," Fortune, November 2, 1992, p. 112.
  3. John Wilke, "Visiting a Bookstore by Switching On a PC," Wall Street Journal, January 11, 1993, p. B1.
  4. Russell Lipton, Multimedia Toolkit, New York: Random House Electronic Publishing, 1992
  5. Roger E. Levien, "The Civilizing Currency: Documents and Their Revolutionary Technologies," in Derek Leebaert, Technology 2001: The Future of Computing and Telecommunications, Cambridge: MIT Press, 1991, p. 206.
  6. Lewis J. Perleman, "School's Out," Wired, Premiere Issue, 1993, p. 72.
  7. Hrair Aldermeshian, William H. Ninke, and Randolph J. Pilc, "The Video Communications Decade," AT&T Technical Journal, January/February 1993, p. 2.
  8. Nicholas Negroponte, "HDTV: What's Wrong with this Picture?", Wired, Premiere Issue, 1993, p. 112.
  9. Jack Grimes and Mike Potel, "Guest Editors' Introduction: Multimedia --- It's Actually Useful!," IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications, July 1991, p. 25.
  10. James Brian Quinn, Intelligent Enterprise: A Knowledge and Service Based Paradigm for Industry, New York: The Free Press, 1992, p. xv.
  11. Quinn, op. cit. p, 241.
  12. Elizabeth Heichler, "IBM's 'Office Vision': PCs Push Phones Off the Desk," Info World, February 22, 1993, p. 1.
  13. Matthew May, "Multimedia Breaks Through," The London Times, June 11, 1993.
  14. Lewis J. Perelman, "School's Out," Wired, Premiere Issue, 1993, p. 73.
  15. Harry Tennant and George H. Heilmeier, "Knowledge and Equality: Harnessing the Tides of Information Abundance," in Technology 2001: The Future of Computing and Communications, Derek Leebaert (Editor), Cambridge: The MIT Press, 1991, p. 135.
  16. Thomas J. DeLoughry, "Compromise Reached on Legislaton Leading to National Information Network," The Chronicle of Higher Education, June 23, 1993, p. A15.
  17. Joanie M. Wexler, "Videoconferencing Makes Use of Existing Infrastructure," Computerworld, June 28, 1993, p. 71.
  18. Wexler, ibid, p. 73.
  19. The Chronicle of Higher Education, June 23, 1993, p. A15.
  20. S. Reisman and W. A. Carr, "Perspective on Multimedia Systems in Education," IBM Systems Journal, Vol. 30, No. 3, 1991, p. 292. The authors of this article add two more attributes: the education must be engrossing, and it should be enjoyable.