‘Global Campus’ in the plans for NIU

By Matthew Rainwater

DeKALB | The University of Illinois has come under fire for investing more than $1 million to develop a “Global Campus” – a virtual campus that would allow students to take classes from anywhere in the world on the Internet.

NIU has plans for a similar project, but officials say they’re weighing out all the options before creating their own online campus.

“The technology is there, and we are looking for opportunities on being out there in the online community,” NIU Provost Raymond Alden said. “But, unlike what the University of Illinois recently did, we hope to work on consensus building and have all of our constituents represented in the process.”

University of Illinois President B. Joseph White recently edited his proposal for making an online Global Campus as part of the university’s online initiative. The University of Illinois Board of Trustees has not yet approved the plan, but met Thursday to discuss the plan’s future.

Under the new plan, White calls for the online campus to be an academic unit of the university instead of a separate for-profit entity. Faculty members from all three campuses in Champaign-Urbana, Springfield and Chicago will be given the opportunity to design and have control over the courses that will be offered.

According to The Associated Press, faculty members weren’t satisfied with the initial plan because it stated the courses would be taught by part-time instructors hired exclusively for the online courses.

Alden said NIU has been aggressive in the planning process and has been working with different countries to set up an Internet learning environment.

The University of Illinois already offers online courses and degree programs, but according to supporters of the Global Campus plan, the virtual campus will be an individual fourth campus.