Enhancing On the Horizon
by James L. Morrison

[Note: This is a re-formatted manuscript that was originally published in On the Horizon, 1997, 5(6), 2-3. It is posted here with permission from Jossey Bass Publishers.]

This issue focuses on virtual education by examining two new institutions that are bellwethers for higher education: the Western Governors University (WGU) and the California Virtual University. Although there are now a number of virtual institutions, these particular universities, representing major constituencies, signal a change in how colleges and universities may conduct their work in the future: operating virtually and (in the case of WGU) granting degrees based on competency rather than credit hours.

Not only have we departed from our customary format for this issue, we also have inaugurated Horizon On-Line. A major benefit of Microsoft’s sponsorship of our Web site is that we now have our own server and use BackOffice and FrontPage as our software to continue the enhancement of the Web site. This combination allows us to increase the utility of your subscription to On the Horizon. For example, in the On the Horizon section of the Web site, subscribers can download any article or any issue of OTH that we have published, including the issue that is awaiting printing. Thus if you are a relatively new subscriber, you have access to those issues published prior to your subscription. Also, we have a search engine that enables you to search back issues (and, in fact, for anything on the Horizon Web site) for topics in which you have an interest. Since FrontPage contains a discussion forum option, we include a separate discussion forum section for each issue, enabling subscribers to ask questions and to participate in asynchronous discussion about any article in that issue.

Authors’ names are in hypertext--by clicking on their names, you can review their credentials, including the articles they have previously published in On the Horizon. Authors’ e-mail addresses are linked to automatic mailers; click on the address of an author and a dialogue box for your message to the author pops up. You can type your message and send it to the author without leaving the Web site.

Moreover, you can enter a section formerly reserved for board members, where you can review drafts submitted for publication consideration. You can participate with editorial board members in making comments and suggestions on articles. These comments are then available not only to authors, but also for all to review and, if they wish, to add their responses and observations. We have been using this function of the Web with the editorial board to enhance the quality and value of articles that we publish. Now you have the opportunity to participate in the dialogue that produces OTH articles.

Through Microsoft’s NetMeeting we will sponsor synchronous chat rooms exclusively for subscribers. That is, we will announce on the Web page and in print issues that on a certain date and time, particular authors will be available to respond to questions about the topic of their articles. We think that interaction between authors and users will be beneficial to both. NetMeeting is free software available for downloading from Microsoft’s home page ( It will allow participants to share and collaborate on information using a white board, chat sessions, as well as live audio and video. In addition, participants will be able to collaborate on Word, Excel, or PowerPoint documents even if only one of the participants actually has the application installed.

We will hold our first net meeting January 14–16. We will begin the discussion with a synchronous net meeting from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Eastern time on January 14, followed by asynchronous conversation up until 5 p.m. on January 16. Authors in this issue will be available for the synchronous meeting and will check in at least three times per day for the asynchronous discussion. To join us, follow the instructions in the boxed insert as to how you can participate in this discussion.

Finally, we have a section where we have posted the results of a focus group that reviewed all articles in Volume Four. We have included a discussion forum so that you can comment on this review. We would also appreciate your comments about this particular issue, since it departs from our normal format. As always, we want On the Horizon to be of value to you. Let us know how we are doing.

All material within the HORIZON site, unless otherwise noted, may be distributed freely for educational purposes. If you do redistribute any of this material, it must retain this copyright notice and you must use appropriate citation including the URL. Also, we would appreciate your sending James L. Morrison a note as to how you are using it. HTML and design by Noel Fiser, ©2006. Page last modified: 7/3/2003 9:50:59 PM. 16162 visitors since February 2000.