During the ICDE ’99 (19th World Conference on Open Learning and Distance Education) congress at the Austria Center in Vienna from June 20 to 24, 1999, approaches of Austrian universities to distance learning will be presented internationally. Distance learning means first of all everything that is not (or not exclusively) a face-to-face study. The classical form of distance learning is that lectures are replaced by printed study material, which the students work on at home (or at any other place), solve assignments and write exams under supervision at the end. In times of new information and communication technologies, students also increasingly work with multi-media applications (e.g. by means of CD-ROMs or via the Internet). In Austria there are still only approaches to distance learning. However, distance studies would also have chances in this country; according to the UOG ’93, Austrian universities should also develop distance studies or distance study parts or even single courses. The distance learning centers and the Center for Distance Learning have already been offering complete courses for a long time in cooperation with the Distance Learning University of Hagen (and in the meantime also with other distance learning universities); the Distance Learning Center Vienna is also integrated into the network of EuroStudy Centres of the EADTU. The University of Linz, for example, transmits lectures by Linz professors via video conference to Bregenz as part of its “Multimedia Law Studies” program. The external institute of the Vienna University of Technology is engaged in innovative approaches to distance learning for further engineering education, whereby participants in different countries are both supervised in regional centers and can communicate with each other as well as with experts by means of telecommunications.
An exhibition booth (“Austro-Corner”) is intended to make transparent the efforts of Austrian universities to develop independent contributions in the field of distance education and to become involved in the international scene. It is also intended to facilitate contact with the numerous institutions from other countries represented at the conference and to help the Austrian institutions presented to initiate international cooperation (both in the sense of joint distance learning offers and in the context of European education or research & development projects). Among the projects to be presented are e.g. the above mentioned “Multimedia Study of Law” of the University of Linz, approaches to continuing education from the SOCRATES/ODL project “FACILE – Facilitated Open Distance Learning for Continuing Engineering Education” coordinated by the External Institute of the TU Vienna, possibly further projects of theDistance Learning Centers and the TU Vienna; individual other universities are still invited to participate. Selected innovative approaches from Austria will be presented on the exhibition stand (approx. 6m*2m). Posters should serve as “eye-catchers” as well as illustrate the projects; interested parties should be able to take folders with them; booth attendants can give explanations to common questions and start some demonstrations; computers should be able to run demos as well as perhaps PowerPoint presentations or view homepages.
Procedure and performance
Basically it must be stated that the available budget is limited – “a lot of stand for little money” is the motto here. In coordination with the project sponsors (external institute of the Vienna University of Technology and the FernStudienzentrum Wien), a design concept including a complete presentation for the exhibition stand; construction of a model on a scale of 1:20; layout concept for posters and folders; calculation of the costs.