prepared, they must use technology extensively in their education.

Western governors now have released a detailed workplan to guide the creation of this new institution. We have in place a design team and a steering committee. Our states are organizing state advisory committees. Governors are requesting legislative appropriations to move the effort ahead in their states. Within 12 months we will be delivering courses to students.

Clearly, we have many cultural, bureaucratic and regulatory barriers to overcome. This is really like taking a giant leap into the unknown. The basic protocols and practices of higher education have remained essentially the same for 2,500 years. While we by no means propose dismantling or diminishing our existing institutions, we do propose adding new elements that we believe will have enormous long-term consequences for learning and training.

We are proposing a "virtual learning system" that will deliver traditional university courses, but also vocational/technical skills and job training for corporate and industry needs, and remedial high school equivalency (GED) courses for those needing basic proficiencies. It will be a learning system for a new millennium, one that incorporates the necessity of lifelong learning as the era of the "knowledge worker" emerges in the new century. It will involve our traditional public post-secondary institutions, but also private colleges and universities, companies that provide training, and the many private businesses that are developing courses and curriculum.

Clearly, our traditional higher education institutions no longer have a monopoly on teaching, learning, or preparing our citizens for the workplace. In the past, citizens needed to go to the college campus to obtain information and knowledge. In the future, information and knowledge will flow to wherever the people are. And it will come from many sources.

One of the tasks of the virtual learning system will be to develop ways to assess and measure learning and competency so that credit, certification and degrees can be awarded on the basis of competency, not seat-time. Rather than focusing on the accreditation of institutions and the credentialing of teachers, this new institution will value learning and competency. And where and how that learning and competency was attained will be irrelevant.

The virtual learning system will offer courses taught in traditional classrooms, via two-way interactive video over fiber-optic cable and satellite, using CD-ROMs and floppy disks, electronic bulletin boards and the Internet. Most courses will be taught live by an instructor, but others will be offered on-demand, at students' convenience. Students will take courses on campus, at home, in libraries, and in business offices. Many students will take some classes on campus, others via distance learning, and some accessing a mega-server or using a CD-ROM. Some courses will consist of a combination of delivery systems. A student might take a majority of courses on a traditional campus, but also take a course from an out-of-state college and another from a private training company.

We envision getting started by taking advantage of the distance-education courses already being offered by our higher education institutions. These classes will be offered across state lines, so that a student at the University of Colorado could take classes from the University of Utah, and vice versa.

Next we will create a formal degree-granting institution, that will not teach courses itself, but will act as a facilitator to bring together education providers and students in programs that are academically coherent.

Finally, the learning system will emerge as a new generation institution that formally recognizes learning and competency, without regard to the source of the instruction. The focus will be on learning and competency, rather than on courses, units, accreditation of institutions or credentialing of instructors.

Clearly, the Western governors have taken on a big project. No single institution, no single governor, no single state could make this happen on its own.