Dreams of global Internet campus

Glenn Jones has a dream. He dreams of the day when people across the globe will be able to turn on, log on and download from his cyberspace campus.

Mr Jones is one of the 10 largest cable operators in the United States, a multimedia mogul with sidelines in country music radio and movies. His cable television channel, The Mind Extension University (also known as Knowledge TV), is a round-the-clock compendium of courses, accredited by a dozen US universities, and beamed into more than a million homes. Now it could be coming to an Internet terminal near you.

"The convergence of technology is giving us opportunities to make the whole world a school . . . to allow education to move round the world like the wind," he says.

Mr Jones was in London recently to host the second conference of the Global Alliance for Transnational Education. Representatives from more than 20 countries attended, including curious delegates from the Higher Education Quality Council and the Open University.

They discussed the need for internationally recognised accreditation and a central information database. To Mr Jones these are mere stepping stones towards the realisation of his vision: "Education is the great hope of human kind for the forward progress of civilisation. It behoves all of us who have the capabilities to react to this need.

"Technology has made things faster, cheaper and more powerful. We are more able to control our futures than ever before. We have the technology and the concepts to resolve the problems of education and health care."

The only thing stopping us is ourselves, or rather, our minds, according to Mr Jones. "The human mind is the bottleneck. The Industrial Revolution was a body extension thing. But people still think of productivity in terms of deploying trucks and labour to manufacture and deliver things. What's happening now is a mind extension thing."

He says the on-line university will not replace traditional education but augment it, particularly in developing countries which cannot afford new schools and universities. "Everybody deserves the opportunity to have a good education. We have to drive the cost of education down. How do we do that? Technology."

Glenn Jones is hoping to expand our minds and broaden our horizons. In the global village, he'd like to be the local sage: "I am very, very positive about the future. In 50 years' time the world will be dramatically different. The neurology of our communications systems will be amazing. Everything and everybody will be connected.

"Continuing education will be a way of life for successful people."

* Mind Extension University Web site:http:www.meu.edumeumap.html

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