The New Silk Road
Global forms of education have a high priority in the early 21st century. The economic recession has encouraged educational institutions to develop strategic alliances aimed at increasing international exchanges, collaborative research funding, and student revenues. Potential advantages of inter-institutional collaboration include course sharing, joint development of new programs, and the sale and licensing of course materials. With the arrival of the internet, the ease with which such projects can be conducted has greatly increased during the last decade. In half a day, an educator may exchange e-mails with half-a-dozen countries-a very different academic world from that of 20 years ago. In the early 1990s, educators wrote letters that could take a month to arrive at a foreign destination. A conference took up to a year to organize based on ‘snail-mail’ correspondence, instead of the few months it can take to convene an international event nowadays. The fax machine helped to speed communications but, as with the postal service, international faxing could be costly for educators. When the internet and the early forms of e-mail arrived in the mid-1990s, instant communication became cost-free.