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Online School Clicks Into Action

September 3, 1998

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) _ It’s a student’s dream _ a university where you can work at your own pace and get a degree without even taking a course.

Welcome to Western Governors University, a virtual learning environment where students can enroll with the click of a mouse button.

``It’s one small click for mankind, one giant leap for distance learning everywhere,″ said Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt as he joined Colorado Gov. Roy Romer and university officials Wednesday in launching the online university.

WGU is a cooperative between 25 colleges and universities in 17 western states and Guam, and several businesses. Students worldwide can enroll in the courses and either count the credit toward a degree from the school providing the course or receive a degree directly from WGU.

Jeff Livingston, chief executive officer of WGU, said many of the courses run on a set schedule, but others can be taken entirely at the student’s leisure.

In theory, a student could enroll in a course and receive an associate’s degree as soon as he or she passes the required competency screening. In fact, students can receive a degree from the university simply by passing the online test _ without even taking a course.

However, the university still has not received accreditation, making the value of the degrees dubious.

Still, Marcia Bankirer, senior academic officer at WGU, said that the value of the degrees is not diminished.

``You can’t guarantee me that the associates degrees coming out of the community colleges can guarantee the competency that we’ll be able to,″ she said.

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The Web site address for Western Governors University is www.wgu.edu.

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