Electronic Learning as a
Replacement and/or Supplement to High School

Susan M. Anstead

University of Maryland, University College
Graduate School of Management & Technology

TMAN645 Ė Electronic Commerce -- Spring 2000



In this paper, I will address several of the  threats and  opportunities to the deployment of electronic commerce in the successful implementation of high school electronic learning. First I will summarize these threats and opportunities, and then I will address each in detail.

External Threats and Opportunities

SUMMARY OF THREATS & OPPORTUNITIES:

  1. EXTERNAL THREATS
    1. Critical Infrastructure Protection
    2. Digital Divide
    3. Privacy
  2. EXTERNAL OPPORTUNITIES
    1. Next Generation Internet
    2. Increase in Technology Funding
    3. Multimedia
THREATS:

Critical Infrastructure Protection. Critical Infrastructures are those physical and cyber-based systems essential to the minimum operations of the economy and government. These systems are so vital that their incapacity or destruction would have a debilitating impact n the defense or economic security of the United States.[1] A critical part of such an infrastructure involves information and communications. According to the President's Commission on Critical Infrastructure Protection:[2]

A critical infrastructure is characterized by computing and telecommunications equipment, software, process, and people that support:
    1. the processing, storage, and transmission of data and information,
    2. the processes and people that convert data and information into knowledge, and
    3. the data and information themselves.
Interruptions of critical infrastructure service can be attributed to both natural and intentional acts. Examples of natural or inadvertent acts include those related to the weather, as well as simple errors and omissions. Examples of intentional acts include insider operations, recreational hackers, criminal activity, industrial espionage, terrorism, national intelligence, and information warfare.[3]

The public switched network (i.e., the national telephone system) is a major point of concern because it provides the connectivity among computer systems, people, and organizations.[4] Should the services on such a network be interrupted, electronic commerce would be also be disabled. For those students involved in high school electronic learning, this would prevent them from accessing their coursework, communicating with teachers and classmates, and doing online research.

Digital Divide. The United States Department of Commerce defines the digital divide as, "the divide between those with access to new technologies and those without".[5] The Department of Commerce in their study on the digital divide presented the following statistics:[6]

Based on these statistics, those individuals who could benefit the most from distance education may be the ones with the least access to technology.

Privacy. In recent weeks, this issue has been the top story of many internet publications. In 1999, an internet advertising company, DoubleClick merged with a direct-marketing company, Abacus Direct. DoubleClick collected data on internet users, such as IP address, browser version, operating system, and sites visited, while Abacus Direct maintained offline data such as name, address, and purchase history. By merging these companies, DoubleClick is now able to mesh these databases and collect vast amounts of information regarding an individualís Internet usage. As a result, the company was hit with a Federal Trade Commission inquiry, two state investigations, and six lawsuits investigating whether the company was engaged in unfair or deceptive practices in gathering information about Internet users.[7] DoubleClick has since backed off merging its data with that acquired from Abacus Direct.[8]

A 1999 AT&T Labs Technical Report surveyed 1,500 Family PC magazine subscribers regarding their concerns over internet privacy. This study showed that 87% of female respondents and 76% of male respondents were very concerned about threats to their personal privacy online. Overall, respondents felt very uncomfortable about providing personal information over the internet. Only 11% felt comfortable giving their phone number, 3% felt comfortable giving their credit card number, and only 1% felt comfortable giving their social security number.[9]

These privacy issues should not only be of concern to general electronic commerce companies, but to high school electronic learning students as well. Many electronic learning institutions have enabled internet-based registrations, which frequently require both a credit card number (for payment) and a social security number (for identification). In addition, grades are provided on "secure" websites or through e-mail, providing another point of interception for confidential material. Finally, if outsiders access student databases, that information could be paired with internet traffic information to provide a detailed snapshot of a student's internet activity.

OPPORTUNITIES:

Next Generation Internet. The Next Generation Internet (NGI) is a Federal research and development program for developing advanced networking technologies and revolutionary applications. These technologies are being tested at 100 to 1000 times faster than todayís internet.[10] This project is supported all the way to the top of the United States Government, as evidenced by President Clintonís statements in the 1998 State of the Union Address. In this address, President Clinton stated:

"I ask Congress to step up support for building the next generation internet. Itís getting kind of clogged, you know. And the net generation internet will operate at speeds up to a thousand times faster than today."[11] Over 170 U.S. universities, working together with industry and government are conducting a similar research and development program, Internet2. Internet2 is working to enable applications such as digital libraries and virtual laboratories that are not possible with todayís internet technologies. One of the long-term goals of Internet2 is to accelerate the diffusion of advanced Internet technology. Internet2 strives to benefit non-university members of the educational community as well, especially K-12 and private libraries.[12]

Increase in Technology Funding. In attempting to expand the use of electronic commerce, it is important to ensure that everyone has access to technology. Numerous public and private foundations have been established to do just that. An example is the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which was formed to help get access to technology to all citizens.[13] A division of that Foundation, the U.S. Library Program, makes grants to public libraries to purchase computers and hardware to bring internet access to their patrons.[14] The five-year goal of the program is to provide such grants to more than 11,000 libraries serving low-income communities.[15] As of the third quarter 1999, they had completed installation of computers and internet access in 2,188 facilities.[16]

In addition, In March 2000, the Foundation announced a $350 million investment in a series of education grants designed to improve both teaching and learning and to enhance access to technology in order to help all students achieve at higher levels.[17]

Multimedia. In recent years, significant strides have been made in the development and advancement of multimedia applications on the internet. The new streaming audio and video technologies allow large sound and video files to be delivered via the internet. These files can be played in real time as it's received, as opposed to waiting for the entire file to be downloaded before playing.[18] This is of great benefit due to bandwidth constraints on today's Internet, which result in lengthy waits for large files to be downloaded.

Another new development is Voice over IP. Voice over IP refers to the transmission of voice that has been compressed and transmitted over an Internet Protocol (IP) network, such as the internet.[19] Voice conversations that traditionally take place in person or on the telephone will be available over the Internet. With further advancements in Internet bandwidth, Voice over IP will provide an alternative to voice conversations over the traditional public switched network.

The development of these and other new forms of multimedia will certainly enhance the educational experience for high school electronic learning. Streaming video can be used to distribute "live" instructional sessions, similar to the traditional classroom, over the internet. Voice over IP can provide a low-cost and convenient means for students to communicate with each other and with their teachers.

CONCLUSION:

There are many issues and developments occurring in the world of computers and telecommunications. Each of these has the potential to affect electronic commerce, and through it, electronic learning. It is important for any organization or educational institution planning a high school electronic learning program to work with communities and governments to address such issues that arise, and be aware of new developments that may enhance the implementation of their program.

Internal Threats and Opportunties

DRIVERS OF CHANGE

There are many forces affecting the development of high school distance education. One example is school overcrowding. In 1996, school enrollment broke the all-time school enrollment record of 51.3 million set by the baby boom generation in 1971, hitting 51.7 million students. It is expected that this growth will continue, reaching 54.3 million by 2006. High school enrollment alone is expected to grow by 13 percent from 1997 to 2007. The Department of Education estimates that 6,000 new schools will have to be built, most of them being high schools. The average high school costs $15.3 million to build. [20]

As school enrollments continue to surge, electronic learning becomes more and more of an option to address the needs of certain segments of the population. When adequate educational facilities are not available, and the cost to build new facilities is so high, electronic learning as a supplement to conventional high school can take some of the pressure off of the expanding educational needs.

A second factor is cost. As outlined above, building a new high school costs $15.3 million. [21]  Once the school is built, there are ongoing maintenance and operational costs. Teachers and students experience additional costs in transportation. [22]   This includes personal transportation (such as by car) and bussing. Although there are costs associated with distance education, such as technology, transmission, maintenance, and support, the cost per student of distance education is less than that of traditional high school. [23]

The third factor I will address is non-traditional students. This may include students in rural areas, older students, and students who for one reason or another cannot attend a traditional high school. This is especially important for youth in crisis situations, such as pregnancy, delinquency, or heath problems. Distance education provides them with opportunities for learning that their communities could not provide.[24]

INTERNAL OPERATIONS

Electronic learning is different that many other forms of electronic commerce, in that it provides a "service" rather than a "product". As a result, discussions of suppliers and customers should be addressed differently. Suppliers are those entities that provide services to the institution (in this case, high school) which enable them to pass on to the customer. In this case, I will define suppliers as "technology" and customers as "students".

The development of technology, in particular the internet, has transformed electronic commerce in only a few years. As more and more people connect to the Internet, more possibilities exist for distance education. With access to the Internet, distance educators and their students can use the following technologies: [25]

Through this development of technology, institutions are now able to provide better service and opportunities to their students. Examples include the following: [26] LINKING INTRANETS AND EXTRANETS

Intranets and Extranets are valuable tools in high school distance education. Intranets are defined as private, web-based networks of a single organization, which contain internal information protected from outsiders by a firewall.[27]   Extranets extend the organization's intranet to external investors, suppliers, and customers.[28]

In high school distance education, an intranet can be used as a means to provide staff support.[29]   Through this intranet, staff can communicate amongst themselves, and also with administrators. Most administrative functions, such as checking class rosters and submitting grades, could be processed through the intranet as well. In short, the intranet would provide an electronic method of communication and administration.

The Intranet can be also be expanded to include students. Extranets offer an opportunity to store and provide learning materials and services in an easy and engaging manner.[30]   Students and faculty can enter password-controlled sites that serve as electronic classrooms. These sites may contain message boards, chat rooms, e-mail capabilities, and links to outside resources.
 

ENDNOTES:

1 Clinton, William J.; Presidential Decision Directive 63, May 22, 1998, Executive Order 13010, July 15, 1996; [Online]; Available at http://www.fbi.gov/nipc/criticalinf.htm.

2 The Report on the President's Commission on Critical Infrastructure Protection; October 1997; [Online]; Available at http://www.fbi.gov/nipc/criticalinf.htm

3 Frequently Asked Questions; National Infrastructure Protection Center; March 8, 2000; [Online[; Available at http://www.fbi.gov/nipc/nipcfaq.htm

4 Ware, Willis H.; The Cyber-Posture of the National Information Infrastructure; RAND; 1998; [Online]; Available at http://www.rand.org/publications/MR/MR976/

5 Falling Through the Net: Defining the Digital Divide; United States Department of Commerce; March 3, 2000; [Online]; Available at http://www.ntia.doc.gov/ntiahome/fttn99/.

6 Falling Through the Net.

7 Anderson, Diane & Perine, Keith; Marketing the DoubleClick Way; Industry Standard; March 7, 2000; [Online]; Available at http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/is/20000306/bs/20000306120.html.

8 Huh, Mary; DoubleClick is Firing Back With Both Barrels; NYPOST.COM; March 8, 2000; http://www.nypost.com/business/1680.htm

9 Cranor, Lorrie, Reagle, Joseph, Ackerman, Mark; Beyond Concern: Understanding Net Users' Attitudes About Online Privacy; AT&T Labs-Research Technical Report TR 99.4.3; April 14, 1999; [Online]; Available at http://www.research.att.com/resources/trs/TRs/99/99.4/99.4.3/report.htm

10 Internet2 and the Next-Generation Internet; The Next Generation Internet Initiative; March 8, 2000; [Online]; Available at http://www.internet2.edu/html/ngi.html

11 Clinton, William J.; State of the Union Address; White House on the NGI; March 8, 2000; [Online]; Available at http://www.ngi.gov/white-house

12 Frequently Asked Questions; Internet2; March 8, 2000; [Online]; Available at http://www.internet2.edu/html/faqs.html

13 Learning; Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; March 8, 2000; [Online]; Available at http://www.glf.org/learning/default.htm

14 Learning.

15 Libraries; Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; March 8, 2000; [Online]; Available at http://www.glf.org/learning/libraries/default.htm

16 U.S. Library Program; Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; March 8, 2000; [Online]; Available at http://www.glf.org/learning/libraries/libraryprogram/default.htm

17 Learning.

18 Ramage, Tom; Streaming Media; Illinois Online Network; March 9, 2000; [Online]; Available at http://illinois.online.uillinois.edu/Presentations/Streaming/index.htm

19 McIntosh, Brian; Voice Over IP; Your About.com Guide to Telecommunications; April 17, 1999; [Online]; Available at http://telecomindustry.about.com/industry/telecomindustry/library/weekly/aa041799.htm?

20 Overcrowding in American Classrooms; U.S House Democratic Policy Committee; September 11, 1997; [Online]; Available at http://www.house.gov/democrats/overcrowding.html.

21 Overcrowding in American Classrooms; U.S House Democratic Policy Committee; September 11, 1997; [Online]; Available at http://www.house.gov/democrats/overcrowding.html.

22 Distance Education; InnoVisions Canada; April 10, 2000; [Online]; Available at http://www.ivc.ca/part10.html.

23 Distance Education at a Glance; Engineering Outreach, College of Engineering, University of Idaho; October 1995; [Online]; Available at http://www.uidaho.edu/evo/dist10.html.

24 Distance Education, A Primer; University of Texas; September 1998; [Online]; Available at http://www.utexas.edu/cc/cit/de/deprimer/

25 Computers in Distance Education; Engineering Outreach, College of Engineering, University of Idaho; October 1995; [Online]; Available at: http://www.uidaho.edu/evo/dist7.html

26 Distance Education at Dalhousie; Distance Education Task Force, Dalhousie University; April 1995; [Online]; Available at: http://www.dal.ca/~dewww/derep.html

27 Vitro, Robert; Module IV -- Overview; University of Maryland, University College; Spring 2000; [Online]; Available (limited) at http://polaris.umuc.edu/~rvitro/tman645sp00/tman645mod4.htm

28 Vitro, Robert; Module IV -- Overview; University of Maryland, University College; Spring 2000; [Online]; Available (limited) at http://polaris.umuc.edu/~rvitro/tman645sp00/tman645mod4.htm

29 Vista School District Digital Intranet; Vista School District; May 1, 1998; [Online]; Available at: http://www.k12.nf.ca/vista/aboutus/partners/backgrounder.html

30 St-Pierre, Armand; Using Web Media and Internet Resources to Enhance Teaching at a Military Training Institution; April 8, 2000; [Online]; Available at: http://www.magnet.ca/stpierre/research/proposal.html

REFERENCES:

Anderson, Diane & Perine, Keith; Marketing the DoubleClick Way; Industry Standard; March 7, 2000; [Online]; Available at http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/is/20000306/bs/20000306120.html.

Clinton, William J.; Presidential Decision Directive 63, May 22, 1998, Executive Order 13010, July 15, 1996; [Online]; Available at http://www.fbi.gov/nipc/criticalinf.htm.

Clinton, William J.; State of the Union Address; White House on the NGI; March 8, 2000; [Online]; Available at http://www.ngi.gov/white-house

Computers in Distance Education; Engineering Outreach, College of Engineering, University of Idaho; October 1995; [Online]; Available at: http://www.uidaho.edu/evo/dist7.html

Cranor, Lorrie, Reagle, Joseph, Ackerman, Mark; Beyond Concern: Understanding Net Users' Attitudes About Online Privacy; AT&T Labs-Research Technical Report TR 99.4.3; April 14, 1999; [Online]; Available at http://www.research.att.com/resources/trs/TRs/99/99.4/99.4.3/report.htm

Distance Education, A Primer; University of Texas; September 1998; [Online]; Available at http://www.utexas.edu/cc/cit/de/deprimer/

Distance Education at a Glance; Engineering Outreach, College of Engineering, University of Idaho; October 1995; [Online]; Available at http://www.uidaho.edu/evo/dist10.html.

Distance Education at Dalhousie; Distance Education Task Force, Dalhousie University; April 1995; [Online]; Available at: http://www.dal.ca/~dewww/derep.html

Distance Education; InnoVisions Canada; April 10, 2000; [Online]; Available at http://www.ivc.ca/part10.html.

Falling Through the Net: Defining the Digital Divide; United States Department of Commerce; March 3, 2000; [Online]; Available at http://www.ntia.doc.gov/ntiahome/fttn99/.

Frequently Asked Questions; Internet2; March 8, 2000; [Online]; Available at http://www.internet2.edu/html/faqs.html

Frequently Asked Questions; National Infrastructure Protection Center; March 8, 2000; [Online[; Available at http://www.fbi.gov/nipc/nipcfaq.htm

Huh, Mary; DoubleClick is Firing Back With Both Barrels; NYPOST.COM; March 8, 2000; http://www.nypost.com/business/1680.htm

Internet2 and the Next-Generation Internet; The Next Generation Internet Initiative; March 8, 2000; [Online]; Available at http://www.internet2.edu/html/ngi.html

Learning; Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; March 8, 2000; [Online]; Available at http://www.glf.org/learning/default.htm

Libraries; Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; March 8, 2000; [Online]; Available at http://www.glf.org/learning/libraries/default.htm

McIntosh, Brian; Voice Over IP; Your About.com Guide to Telecommunications; April 17, 1999; [Online]; Available at http://telecomindustry.about.com/industry/telecomindustry/library/weekly/aa041799.htm?

Overcrowding in American Classrooms; U.S House Democratic Policy Committee; September 11, 1997; [Online]; Available at http://www.house.gov/democrats/overcrowding.html.

Ramage, Tom; Streaming Media; Illinois Online Network; March 9, 2000; [Online]; Available at http://illinois.online.uillinois.edu/Presentations/Streaming/index.htm

St-Pierre, Armand; Using Web Media and Internet Resources to Enhance Teaching at a Military Training Institution; April 8, 2000; [Online]; Available at: http://www.magnet.ca/stpierre/research/proposal.html

The Report on the President's Commission on Critical Infrastructure Protection; October 1997; [Online]; Available at http://www.fbi.gov/nipc/criticalinf.htm

U.S. Library Program; Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; March 8, 2000; [Online]; Available at http://www.glf.org/learning/libraries/libraryprogram/default.htm

Vista School District Digital Intranet; Vista School District; May 1, 1998; [Online]; Available at: http://www.k12.nf.ca/vista/aboutus/partners/backgrounder.html

Vitro, Robert; Module IV -- Overview; University of Maryland, University College; Spring 2000; [Online]; Available (limited) at http://polaris.umuc.edu/~rvitro/tman645sp00/tman645mod4.htm

Ware, Willis H.; The Cyber-Posture of the National Information Infrastructure; RAND; 1998; [Online]; Available at http://www.rand.org/publications/MR/MR976/