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Worldwide College Links Employees to Training

July 23, 1999
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This is the Age of Transformation—of continual reengineering, restructuring and reinventing our organizations and ourselves—with growing needs for information access and better communications. To succeed, we must remain current in technology, commerce and global activities. Education is a necessity and we're increasingly turning to the information superhighway (the "Net") as an interactive learning tool. It's a new paradigm, impacting our business and industry partners, government, education and the world in which we live.

World Community College is born.
To benefit from the enormous power of this new medium, the World Community College (WCC) was created. It's an educational process that's inclusive and relevant, and affirms two roles of our colleges: meeting the traditional educational needs of our communities, local businesses and civic organizations, and linking ourselves with the world at large.

The college of the future must be both a "community" college and a "world" college, developing a network to share information among contacts and partners wherever they're located. To be effective, these world community colleges must link with others having similar goals and values. And they must provide services to one another and to the communities they serve. WCC is now on the network of international telecomputing services—making campus education available to students, faculty, businesses and institutions of all kinds.

Who's included?
Any college can become a world community college by adopting the interactive approaches that characterize online work—linking themselves to the world. WCC is an idea that grew from early distance-learning concepts to using the technology now available to citizens worldwide.

WCC is a consortium of colleges that offers the spectrum of educational programs and services online through a virtual campus. Using computers and telephones, WCC brings the college campus to the student, wherever he or she is working—at work, at home or on a laptop—anywhere in the world.

The virtual campus provides all the services of a "real" campus: classrooms, library, student services, financial aid, faculty offices, lecture halls, lounges—using books, tapes, computers, CD-ROMs, video, graphics and the worldwide telephone network, without needing to occupy a physical building or space. In this way, employees no longer need to travel. The school comes to them wherever they are. WCC has turned to technology—rather than brick and mortar—to reinvent the college setting.

To develop this concept, the Community Colleges for International Development (CCID) embarked on a joint venture with the Electronic University Network (EUN) to make WCC a reality. CCID (founded in 1976) is a consortium of 70 North American community, technical and junior colleges to provide economic and HR development through international post-secondary education. EUN is an educational service provider that has been active in online work since 1987, developing and offering online courses and educational services. Together they have developed the World Community College and are recruiting institutions that offer noncredit courses and workshops, continuing education programs, professional development seminars, custom-designed workplace training and transfer credit courses leading to college degrees, totally online and requiring no campus residency.

How does it work?
Brevard Community College, on Florida's Space Coast—a founding member and administrative headquarters of CCID—has initiated World Community College's online programs by offering courses and associate degree programs. It uses America Online to provide the telecomputing network that links its campuses with students, businesses, government institutions and educational groups worldwide. Comprised of CCID members and other colleges that form an online network of students and telecommuting institutions, WCC offers educational programs and training of all types anywhere in the world where needed. Because it isn't tied to a single technology or methodology, WCC is flexible. WCC's effectiveness is defined by the success of its students and its usefulness to its member institutions.

With such a program, employers have more options, including customized workplace training that can use individual employee workstations or common sites where each student logs on at a time most convenient to them. The savings from educational travel that's no longer required may be enough to persuade many companies to provide tuition reimbursement through this medium for all types of study programs. Home study becomes a much more attractive option, making the most of the telecommuting policies that growing numbers of U.S. firms are implementing to permit employees to work from their homes.

Although no campus environment, even virtual, will meet everyone's, and every company's needs for training, it's a new option—one that you'll probably want to consider as you evaluate your firm's training schedule.

Personnel Journal, February 1996, Vol. 75, No. 2, p. 32.

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