Forewords Online Education and Learning Management Systems by pengxiang


                                    Dr. Erwin Wagner is Director of the Centre for Distance Learning
                                    and Continuing Education at the University of Hildesheim in
                                    Germany. He was President of the European Distance Education
                                    Network ( from 2000 to 2003. In addition to
                                    lecturing on distance education, multimedia and e-learning, he
                                    has worked as project manager of the multi-university Virtual
                                    Campus framework and as coordinator of the competence net-
                                    work VIA-online in Germany. Wagner has also been used as a
         consultant for political bodies on institutional, national, and European initiatives regarding
         assessment, evaluation, and quality management.

         What might you – the reader – want to learn about this new book when opening it? Let me
         introduce your reading expedition by providing a few glances about discoveries you can
             First of all, this is an interesting book: If possible, I recommend that you read, listen to, or
         view the multimedia interview ( with the author about his back-
         ground for writing the book. There, the author provides information concerning the (his)story
         of this book, the context (of long and outstanding international experience in the field), the
         targets (to open gateways between Nordic, European and international educators) and the
         integration of theory and practice. Adjusted to the modern world of multi-media there is an
         interesting mix of different modes. You will find very interesting theoretical concepts and
         sound empirical data. There are very interesting anecdotes to illuminate distance and
         online education in everyday practice. And readers will find a stimulating combination of
         different levels and perspectives: students and teachers, technology and organisation, man-
         agement and policy.
             Second, I regard this as an important book: This book by Paulsen is based on the evalu-
         ation of long and rich experience in distance education and its shift towards online teach-
         ing and learning. It is very timely indeed, focussing on some of the most important issues
         and tasks in the field of online education these days. In the first part you can find a broad
         set of useful definitions and models. It summarizes what leading researchers have con-
         tributed to the research and what many students and many online teachers have con-
         tributed to our present knowledge on how to resolve practical problems. In fact this book
         very effectively helps to create and structure this knowledge itself.

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                     Third, it is an innovative book: It might be more precise to call it an innovative concept
                 showing how to present relevant information from research and practice. And the book is
                 just the central part. It is the printed part only, which proves that the author does what he
                 claims to do: He provides appropriate resources to foster information, discussion, develop-
                 ment and research through an intelligent combination of media for different purposes – as
                 he treats the issue of online education. The website will enhance the use of this printed
                 book with some real added value including different versions of the book for “electronic”
                 readers, links, multimedia presentations and opening space for international online confer-
                 ences. Regarding conceptual innovation, the presentation is based on the focal idea of
                 “cooperative freedom” (first published by the author in 1992) which now can be regarded
                 as one of the leading concepts among very famous ones in the history of distance educa-
                 tion, especially valuable for online education.
                     Fourth, this book proves to be an international one: Paulsen claims to inform “online
                 education professionals” around the world about innovative development and research in
                 the Nordic countries. Obviously there have been very relevant experiments, projects,
                 research activities and institutional models coming from the Scandinavian countries.
                 Some are linked to European projects (where the author has been very active). Others
                 are based on national or regional programmes. A few are linked to collaboration on a
                 global level. As many professionals are quite closely following the innovative concepts
                 and experiences in the Nordic countries, it may be regarded a little bit “coquettish”
                 when the author asks whether Nordic professionals, and even more so business people
                 and politicians, are too “shy” or too much “narcissistic” to present their findings, pro-
                 gresses and success to the world outside. But as he clearly states, there is much more at
                 stake now: Online education has opened or widened the space for new opportunities in
                 regional, national and global markets. So far, companies and consortia from the US,
                 Australia and partially Europe are more or less dominating the field. To move this diagno-
                 sis very clearly into the awareness of the stakeholders concerned, the international char-
                 acter of the book is a double one: It presents the richness and excellence of achieve-
                 ments in the Nordic area to the world outside, and it emphasises that decision-makers in
                 the Nordic countries should become aware of the chances and opportunities existing in
                 the further development and exploitation of online education as a new “industry” inside
                     Fifth, it is an impressive volume: This book comprises a rich variety of material, perspec-
                 tives, insights and assessments. Valid information can be found there for researchers, for stu-
                 dents in the field, for teachers, for managers and for politicians who are looking for reliable
                 knowledge. It is very clear in its structure and arguments. In strategic and policy terms it
                 discusses issues at the forefront of current debate, especially in part four: “Trends and future
                 developments”. This shows in essence what the future of online education will be about. It
                 will be a very vivid, inventive and busy area where the institutions and professionals in the
                 Nordic countries could be a very influential part of the game, as Paulsen proves with his
                 own example and this book, too.
                     And after all, you will find this book an invitation to take part in the discussion and even

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         more so in the further development and refinement of online education – in the Nordic
         countries (with their very active and influential networks and organisations), in Europe
         (where the European Distance and E-learning Network EDEN would serve as an excellent
         environment) or on a global level. This book will reward those who read it, and then it is
         up to the readers to gain benefit from what they have learned.

         Erwin Wagner

                                  Ingeborg Bø became President of the European Distance and E-
                                  learning Network in 2003. She is working as Executive Director
                                  of NADE, the Norwegian Association for Distance Education. She
                                  has also participated in many Nordic, European, and interna-
                                  tional projects and committees related to distance education. At
                                  the moment she is a project partner in the Baltic-Nordic Network
                                  for Exchange of Experience in Open and Distance Learning

         International educators can learn from online education in Scandinavia. The Scandinavian
         countries are often regarded as test beds for new technology. And the book testifies that
         online education has come further in Scandinavia than in most other countries. This is evi-
         dent in the advancement of large-scale provision of online education and in the integration
         between LMS systems and national student administration systems. But on the other side,
         the Scandinavians do not seem to be able to capitalize on their competitive edge. A lot of
         Nordic students study abroad, but there is no focus on export of online education.
             This book should be of interest to international readers since it presents Scandinavian
         online education in an international perspective. Paulsen draws heavily on his international
         experience from Pennsylvania State University and from participation in numerous European
         research projects. The American influence is most visible in Part One: Online Education,
         Teaching and Learning, which is also the most theoretical part. The European perspective is
         most evident in Part Two: Commercial and Self-developed LMS systems. There a number of
         important analyses of European online education are presented from the EU-funded Cisaer
         and Web-edu projects.
             Paulsen became one of the very first European online educators when he initiated the
         development of the EKKO computer conferencing system in 1986 and taught his first online
         course the same year. Since then, he has worked continuously in the field, participated in
         many European research projects, and published a number of books, articles and reports
         about the topic. So, readers will soon discover that the book is based on practical and
         long-term knowledge of the field, thorough personal experience, and research to back up
         the many pointed statements.

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                     Paulsen is a well-know speaker at conferences and seminars and participates often in
                 public debate about online-education. In this way he shares his experience and knowledge
                 with the ODL-community, a fact that is highly appreciated by colleagues both in Norway
                 and Scandinavia. Through his active participation in the Baltic Nordic network he con-
                 tributes considerably to the development of online-education in all seven countries involved.
                 The educational community needs the willingness of pioneers like Paulsen to contribute to the
                 theoretical and practical understanding of a field in rapid change and development.
                     One of the most important contributions in this book may be Paulsen’s discussion on
                 Cooperative Freedom: A Theory of Online Education. But also his Definitions of Online Educa-
                 tion Terms and toolbox of Online Teaching Techniques should be of important value to interna-
                 tional educators.
                     The book includes several anecdotes that illustrate real life examples of the more aca-
                 demic articles. These anecdotes are well written, pointed, and sometimes provocative as is
                 the case with The Swedish Challenges. Paulsen’s continuous work on online education is
                 best illustrated in his description of The NKI Internet College. It presents an interesting review
                 of nearly 20 years’ development of the online education enterprise he has pioneered and
                     In the introduction to his book Nettbasert utdanning, Paulsen compared online education
                 with the cartoon figures Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Both are teenagers conceived in the
                 U.S. Online education was pioneered in the 1980s, and it is now approaching adult-
                 hood. Like other teenagers, it grows rapidly and creates many challenges and much frustra-
                 tion in the process. Like the Turtles, online education can be perceived as a mutation that
                 appeared as a result of a collision between new technology and rigid educational institu-
                 tions. In the resulting chaos, online education emerged as an organism with completely
                 new genetic qualities. And the mutant may emerge as being more vigorous than its educa-
                 tional origin. And it may still provide completely new opportunities for education.

                 Ingeborg Bø

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