NKS Nettstudier (NKS, English: NKS Distance Education) is a non-profit private educational institution in Norway, accredited by the Norwegian Government. NKS offers courses at secondary and tertiary level to adults. NKS courses are aimed at the continuing and further education market, and to some extent also at students seeking an ordinary (basic) education and.
NKS is a single mode distance education provider. It was founded in 1914 and is the oldest distance education institution in Norway. It has 16 full-time employees and 60 part-time.
Its web site is at http://www.nks.no/ - but note that there appears to be no material in English on this site.
(sourced from http://nettskolen.nki.no/in_english/megatrends/NKS_Article.pdf see Reports heading later in this page)
NKS was originally based on correspondence teaching for several decades.
Recently, NKS has been in the forefront of using new technologies. For example, a few years after television broadcasting started in Norway, NKS started to produce education programmes in cooperation with the Norwegian National Broadcasting (NRK). In the 1980s, NKS participated in a consortium with several other stakeholders in the field, such as NKI and the national telecommunication company. Here the aim was to run test projects with different technologies, such as satellite communication. The consortium was terminated around 1990.
Around 1987/1988 a project applying a predecessor of the Internet was launched. The system developed, called PortaCOM, was not applied broadly in the institution and can be viewed as a test project. Although considerable numbers of students used PortaCOM, teaching still relied largely on a first-generation (correspondence) or second generation (radio and TV based distance education) model.
Ordinary use of the Internet started around 1997/1998 when some of the NKS courses were made available on the web. The first LMS, which NKS still uses, was introduced in 2000. This system is called Luvit, and NKS was one of the owners of the system (one of the other owners were the Lund University in Sweden). With this, third generation distance education was established at NKS.
Since then, the number of students in web based courses has increased steadily, and today numbers 3000-4000 per year (6000-8000 course enrolments). NKS still offers correspondence teaching. The number of correspondence students has decreased during the last years, and now numbers around 2000 students per year (around 4000 course enrolments).
During the 1980s and 1990s, the total number of students decreased substantially at NKS. For example, in 1976 the institution had had around 100,000 course enrolments. The high numbers were largely a result of cooperation with education organisations that organised face-to-face meetings in blended learning models. In addition, the government funded a large part of the course fees. The decline stopped after year 2000 and during the last few years number of students have been constant or increased slightly. The increases have been totally due to growth in number of online students.
Existing case study
NKS was a case study for the MegaTrends project. The 6-page document NKS interview for the Mega Trends project makes informative reading. There is a companion paper also at http://nettskolen.nki.no/in_english/megatrends/NKS_Article.pdf which touches on critical success factors.
PortaCOM and later systems used at NKS
- PortaCOM was a very famous computer conferencing system - see the article by Jacob Palme for the history. A thesis section by Ola Berge at http://folk.uio.no/olaberg/thesis/node4.html gives a useful description of its use at NKS:
- NKS Distance Education, the largest distance education institution in Norway, started using computer conferencing in their education in the spring of 1989 in their project The NKS Electronic College. They used the conferencing system PortaCOM (described by Fjuk & Jenssen ) until January 1994, when the system was replaced by the conferencing system liNKS.
- In their article Designing On-Line Courses and Studies, Annita Fjuk and Astrid E. Jenssen state that the system was introduced as a supplementary offer to established distance education models. In a report on the experiences from the first three years of the electronic college, Annita Fjuk observes that during the spring semester of 1992, 40% of the students who had access to the system did not use it. In 1992, when the system was most extensively used, more than 500 students participated actively in the on-line activities. Annita Fjuk (ibid.) reports that the project has been a process of continuously improving and developing CSdCL at NKS. "[The project] has shown that the students use PortaCOM as a pedagogical tool for two-way communication, and that the technical difficulties with the use of the medium have been reduced as the concept has evolved". Fjuk also reports that the use of the system in the first semester was characterized by technical problems, the discussions relating to the educational content of the course were to a large degree absent. During the first three years of operation, however, the system changed from being a forum for ``one-shot questions to a forum for discussion. The report (ibid.) shows that a large number of students were satisfied with the participation in distributed collaborative learning, and it indicates that active use of the system corresponded to a higher completion rate. Fjuk (ibid.) emphasizes that a number of factors might contribute to this. One possible explanation could be that use of the medium establish contact with peers and teachers is motivating. Other factors are that it might be the students who were most motivated at the outset who use the medium, or that use of the medium could be motivated by a resulting higher professional status. Investments in equipment and course might also contribute to commitment to completing the course.
- NKS discontinued the operation of PortaCOM in January 1994, when it was replaced with the system liNKS. PortaCOM resided on a VAX server at USIT, the University of Oslo's center for information technology. NKS closed down operations of PortaCOM when USIT upgraded the UNIX operating system on the server to a new version because of problems with the delivery of the new version of PortaCOM from the vendor. Other factors that contributed to the termination were that agreement on operation and maintenance of the system with the external partner proved expensive and communication costs were high. NKS subsidized the communication expenses for the students living outside of Oslo by offering connection to the server using the DATAPAK service. Thus, all students paid local phone charges when accessing the system, independent of their geographical location in Norway.
- liNKS was introduced in January 1994. The conferencing system, purchased from an external developer, was based on the Bulletin Board System PCBoard. The students accessed liNKS through the communication program 1stReader, a program adapted to liNKS. Operation and maintenance of liNKS were handled by NKS. The system is described in the user manual liNKS. NKS used the new system for two years before closing down the operation. There was little activity on the conferences, due to problems mainly with the pedagogy and administration.
This institution/programme was discussed as a case study in the Megatrends project in its second report, Megaproviders of e-learning in Europe (PDF - 212 pages - EN), 2007 (ISBN 978 82 562 88184).