One of the first global virtual organizations, the World Association for Online Education (WAOE) was founded in 1998 as a nonprofit organization to turn online education into a professional discipline. Today educators can still find it as rewarding as ever to learn from others with similar interests around the world, to share knowledge and to collaborate through this network. Currently we are turning into an international NGO, increasing our officers and publications, with our mission wide open to serve the needs of members.
The original vision of the WAOE (easily remembered as “wow-ee”) saw people around the world interested in education through the Internet going from site to site like so many masterless samurai, needing an organization to bring practitioners in a new field together. Founding members participated in some of the first online academic conferences from 1996, but yearned for year-round networking. Thus, after an online constitutional convention, the WAOE was registered as a membership type non-profit public benefit corporation by a California State University professor, while an educator in Estonia secured the waoe.org domain. With the President in Japan and officers in many countries, an online World Culture Festival was one example of intercultural communication and reconciliation. Besides such personal enrichment, a dedication to professionalism through academic standards and ethics has maintained the credibility of the organization over the years in the sometimes murky field of online education.
As a virtual organization the WAOE pioneered online parliamentary procedures to conduct meetings and voting for Directors online. Officers have occasionally met in person after working together online, such as by presenting at conferences in the UK and Malaysia. Members have more often collaborated on book chapters and other publications at a distance. A recent Board of Directors meeting was held as a videoconference, with participants in various time zones. Learning from each other, members are empowered by such technologies.
Online education in the widest sense encompasses teaching and learning online, academic activities or any educational services conducted wholly or partly through the Internet. Educators in all fields today need e-learning skills as an auxiliary discipline, and in the field of online education, Internet technologies are both the object of inquiry and the media through which they are investigated. Thus the WAOE also remains pan-disciplinary, so members are exposed to a wide range of disciplinary as well as cultural perspectives.
From the earliest stages the WAOE received various support from universities, organizations, and members, enabling us to abolish membership dues in the year 2000. After paying for our domain name and Internet Service Provider through around 2015, in order to become free of NPO requirements, we donated the remaining funds to a children’s hospital in Bangladesh. As a wholly virtual organization now, with a minimum of expenses, while the future direction is open to new visions, membership will always be free.
With the WAOE becoming an informal international NGO, membership obligations can be simplified while the privileges grow. The Membership Chair, Dr. Ramesh Sharma, has maintained a database, receiving and updating relevant member information. Members have been expected mainly to be in e-mail contact and to belong to the WAOE-Views discussion list, while refraining from commercial solicitation or academically unethical use of WAOE resources. The WAOE seeks active members more than increasing numbers, because the mutual communication and sharing among members increase the privileges of membership. The WAOE communication channels are expanding into social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, so there will be ever new opportunities for mutually beneficial member networking. If you are interested and willing to participate in a global academic society dedicated to pedagogically sound online education, then WAOE membership is for you.
WAOE Founding Vision http://www.waoe.org/vision.html
WAOE Milestones http://www.waoe.org/president/index.html
Collaboration by WAOE members on publications http://www.waoe.org/more-about-us.html
WAOE Facebook Page http://www.facebook.com/waoepage
WAOE on Twitter http://twitter.com/waoe12