To Invent the Future of Higher Education(Ref.#5)
NEWARK , August 16, 1999 - Roughly three years ago, the World Bank based in Washington D.C. needed help to set up a new educational venture, a "virtual university," in sub-Saharan Africa half a world away.
Around the same time, Bell Atlantic Network Services was seeking a way for 21 employees to obtain their Master's degrees in Information Management without interfering with their work schedules.
And about two years ago, Bert Eichhorn, a 27-year-old Information and Technology manager for Norkus Enterprises, Inc., a New Jersey food and liquor retailer, had his own problem: How to further his education and obtain a BA degree when he just didn't have the time to commute to college?
All three turned for help to the "most wired" public university in America today, New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT).
With NJIT's lead, and the aid of other schools from the U.S. and elsewhere, the World Bank's African Virtual University is now in its third year assisting hundreds of students in sub-Saharan universities to gain the knowledge and skills needed to help their countries build their economies.
The AVU uses a combination of scheduled videotaped classes transmitted by satellite, followed by "live" satellite-transmitted, scheduled classes from American and other contributing schools and E-mail to provide credit-bearing classes in science, technology and medical fields. Specially trained facilitators or mentors in each school also help teach the students.
In January of this year, the 21 employees of Bell Atlantic graduated from NJIT with Master's degrees without once setting foot on campus. Thanks to NJIT "extension sites," all were able to attend classes at a location convenient to their work.
Bell Atlantic employees in Newark sat in a specially equipped, two-way audio/video classroom with an NJIT professor who delivered the lecture. The firm's employees in Maryland and Central New Jersey watched and commented via state-of-the-art interactive technology.
And with help from another NJIT "distance learning" program, hard-working Information and Technology Manager Eichhorn can attend "class" via computer in the comfort of his own home and is now well on his way to earning a Bachelor's degree in Information Systems.
NJIT was a "natural" selection for these jobs because it is a national leader in distance learning and extension sites. It offers a variety of distance learning programs through its ACCESS/NJIT Distance Learning Program (Virtual Classroom*). It also offers courses at many extension sites at corporations and other colleges.
But distance learning is only the "tip of the iceberg" in describing the depth and scope of NJIT's computing-intensive education. It's not surprising that Yahoo! Internet Life magazine recently ranked NJIT as America's "most wired" public university for the second consecutive year, and has ranked it one of the top six "most wired" campuses among both public and private universities for the three years the survey has been taken.
NJIT is one of only four universities (the others are MIT, Rennsselaer and Indiana University) that have consistently ranked among the top 10 in the Yahoo! survey.
Leadership in computerized education is the norm at NJIT. The university recently became one of the first in the nation to offer graduate and undergraduate specializations in E-commerce management.
The new specializations at NJIT's School of Management, one offered under a new Masters in Business Administration and the other, under a Bachelor of Science in Management, are accepting students now. The new courses, all three credit offerings, will be available beginning Fall 2000.
The university is a pioneer and national model for incorporating computer technology into the classroom. All students work on-line. Classes include video, audio, web links, communications capabilities, images, and interactive simulations and quizzes.
Other programs offer Internet-based collaborative projects involving teams of students from other universities around the country. Such innovations allow students to learn at their own pace, and to experience real-world conditions for project management.
Wired perks include an on-line gaming network, an electronic ride board and a campus "cyber-café," in addition to linked student pages and an on-line student newspaper.
In addition, all full-time, first-time freshmen receive their own Pentium computer to use during their undergraduate years. Each computer package includes a hard disk drive, a floppy disk drive, a CD-ROM drive, a SVGA graphic card, a color VGA monitor and an array of sophisticated software and equipment.
The commitment to provide free e-mail to students follows even after they graduate. All continue to receive free e-mail, courtesy of NJIT.
At NJIT, every dorm room is wired, providing direct access to the campus information system and to the Internet. And everyone, including faculty, administrators, and students, has access to the campus information system, e-mail and the Internet.
What's more, students can register, add or drop courses, and view transcripts on-line. Applications for all programs, undergraduate, graduate and continuing education - are available on the University's website.
Being first in wired education is nothing new at NJIT. University researchers developed the first computerized conferencing system, and later pioneered the Virtual Classroom for distance learning. NJIT's School of Architecture has been a pioneer in computer-aided design.
Intent on maintaining its lead in information technologies, NJIT recently launched a $50 million spending plan that ties the development of information technologies with the university's strategic goals.
NJIT is a public research university enrolling nearly 8,200 bachelor's, master's and doctoral students in 76 degree programs through its five colleges: Newark College of Engineering, School of Architecture, College of Science and Liberal Arts, the School of Management and the Albert Dorman Honors College. Research initiatives include manufacturing, microelectronics, multimedia, transportation, computer science, solar astrophysics, environmental engineering and science, and architecture and building science.
U.S. News and World Report's 1999 Annual Guide to America's Best Colleges ranked NJIT among the nation's top universities, and Money magazine's Best College Buys 1998 rated NJIT as the sixth best value among U.S. science and technology schools and among the top 100 overall.