CORVALLIS - This is about as close as it gets to a virtual university - a distance education course offered on the World Wide Web this fall term will be hosted at Oregon State University, but taught by faculty and offered for credit at universities in five states.

And guest lecturers will drop by from 10 other universities.

The graduate level course, GEO 507, is in geographic information science, the science behind such technology as computerized mapping and data systems. Satellite and remote sensing data is often used in these systems. The course will also cover societal implications of the science, such as using such mapping in developing countries.

The national course coordinator, Dawn Wright, an OSU assistant professor in geosciences, will teach the OSU section of the class, which will meet Mondays at 3 p.m.

All the instructors will meet next month in Utah to go over final details.

Oregon State University will host the virtual seminar by providing the software that will enable more than 100 students across the nation to confer with faculty from OSU, San Diego State, the University of Georgia, the University of Minnesota and Louisiana State University. The educational institutions are all members of the University Consortium for Geographic Information Science.

Visiting lecturers are expected to log on from Ohio State University, the University of Colorado at Boulder, Clark University, SUNY-Buffalo, UC-Santa Barbara, the University of Washington, the University of West Virginia, and Hunter College - City University of New York.

A panel discussion in November at a scientific conference in Fort Worth, Texas, will allow some faculty and students to meet in person, give students a chance to report their progress, and give faculty feedback on the course, including an evaluation of its online nature.

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Dawn Wright, 541-737-1229