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Virtual vs. physical mobility and cooperation


June 2001 - June 2001


Norwegian Centre for International Cooperation in Higher Education (SIU)


On 10-12 June 2001 ACA held, in collaboration with its Norwegian member SIU, an exclusive conference devoted to the changes which the onslaught of electronic teaching and learning will bring to our current understanding and practice of international cooperation. The guiding questions, which ACA was seeking to find answers to, were whether or not e-learning will replace partly or fully classroom-based instructions, whether or not classical forms of mobility and curricular cooperation between countries will be replaced by web-based internationalisation and what will be the impact of these changes on the work of internationalisation agencies, such as the members of ACA. The conference took place in Bergen, Western Norway. The seminar convened some 50 experts on the subject, predominantly from Europe, but also from North America, Australia and Asia.

The participants found that despite of increasing importance of the virtual education it will not fully replace the "traditional" university but will rather complement it. The main disadvantages of e-learning mentioned during the seminar were its high start-up cost, uneven access and equity, problems of quality assurance and its neglecting of research function of higher education. However online provision of education is there to stay and most likely will grow considerably over the coming years as a supplement to the traditional way of educational delivery. The participants reached an agreement that the virtual education is not international in nature and therefore it does not threaten the internationalisation but it can change it by complementing and enriching the latter. Thus, the international agencies will not loose their job but they need to open up for the new type of internationalisation enriched by the virtual elements.