The Indiana College Network (ICN) was launched in July 1994 by Indiana’s colleges and universities, acting collectively through the Indiana Higher Education Telecommunication System (IHETS) and one of its key leadership groups, the Indiana Partnership for Statewide Education (IPSE). Its mission is to be a learner-centered electronic-learning collaboration that provides partner institutions with innovative means to meet lifelong learning needs of Indiana citizens.

When ICN was created, Indiana’s higher education institutions were well ahead of those in many other states, offering 15 degree programs entirely at a distance and well over 100 college credit courses per year via technology, primarily by video. Enrollments in credit classes hovered in the range of 7,000 to 8,000 per year. Most of the degree programs and many of the classes were at the graduate level, however, leaving those interested in associate or bachelor’s completion degrees with few choices.

Since the consistent goal of IPSE was to create and sustain “a single coordinated system of distance learning for Indiana’s citizens,” it focused attention from the outset on expanded faculty development, coordinated course and program planning with emphasis on the undergraduate level, improved technology access throughout the state, and coordinated student services.

ICN was created to serve as an information clearinghouse for students and student services coordinators. To that end, it encompassed a print catalog and online database of classes and degree and certificate programs, a telephone hotline to answer questions, print and online explanations of distance education and higher education procedures, and eventually a way for students to request enrollment through the ICN Web site. One of the key accomplishments that enabled the launch of ICN was a policy document known as the Home Institution Model, at that time a revolutionary statewide agreement to assure students consistent recording of their class progress and the ability to cross-register between institutions without jeopardizing their financial aid.

The growth has been staggering. Today:

This growth in distance education and ICN over the past ten years has been driven most notably by the explosion of the Internet and the World Wide Web. Even though video is still the most suitable technology for some subjects and for some learners, electronic communication has enriched the ways in which instruction is conducted across the board and has enabled many more institutions to participate in this form of educational outreach. Correspondingly, in 2005 more of ICN’s services and resources are Web-based, from student inquiries to back-end enrollment processes among multiple campuses. True to our attempt to blend high tech with high touch, however, there continue to be human beings at the end of a chat, telephone call, or videoconference, and human beings available to help at local learning centers. And the institutions continue to work together through IPSE and ICN, listening to student feedback and requests, to identify and meet emerging educational needs of the people of Indiana.