WBU business professor participates in Oxford Round Table

Release Date: August 15, 2009    

PLAINVIEW – They may not have answered all the questions related to controlling the vastness of the World Wide Web, but recent participants of the Oxford Round Table proved there are many views on the subject.

Dr. Sammy Van Hoose, associate professor of management information systems in the School of Business at Wayland Baptist University, was one of 39 people attending the Round Table recently, centered around the topic of “Cyberspace Law and Education.” 

Van Hoose, who teaches many of Wayland’s courses in the networking and computer fields, has studied the topic of the Internet and the many challenges surrounding it. In particular, his doctoral dissertation dealt with identification of students in an online teaching environment, a subject of much discussion nationwide. He said about half the attendees were from academic institutions around the United States, while the other half were lawyers or worked in the legal arena, including the attorney general of Virginia.

The Round Table format typically features morning sessions packed with presentations by participants, followed by an open forum discussion on the topic. Though he did not present at the Round Table, Van Hoose moderated two discussions after presentations by attendees, one on the separation of church and state in the college classroom and one on the theory that schools are becoming pipelines to the nation’s prison system because of heavy rules leading to a high dropout rate and rises in crime. Van Hoose said both tied in the aspects of online learning and the Internet.

Van Hoose said the group definitely expressed the gamut of feelings on the topic and how the future of the Internet will look.

“Right now, the U.S. government holds the IP addresses and they’re the ones that give them out to other countries, so they can withhold them. Of course, the other countries don’t like that,” Van Hoose said. “There is a big push internationally for an open ‘Net with no regulation at all.”

He said the predominant issues arising in the discussion were control of the World Wide Web and an apparent movement toward the U.S. government regulating it.

“It started out as a network for the Department of Defense to disseminate and collect information from universities for research. When the general public got wind of it, they wanted in on it. So HTML (a Web programming language) was developed and it just sort of exploded,” he said. “Nobody wants the sexual predators out there or information on making bombs out there. But once you start cutting off information, where do you stop? That’s the big question.”

The Round Table was held in Saint Anne’s College at Oxford, with the group getting to tour other parts of the historic university town as well. Afternoons were free for sightseeing around the city, and Van Hoose took the opportunity to enjoy the surroundings.

“One of the things that got to me was standing in Oxford Union in the same hall where Churchill, Carter, Gandhi and Nixon addressed the students of Oxford,” he noted. “It was pretty humbling to stand in the same place they did.”

Van Hoose said the presentations and discussions will likely end up incorporated at some level into a few of classes, especially since the topic is so timely and a “hot button” issue.

After his week at the Round Table, Van Hoose’s wife Nelda met him in London and the two spent another week touring the historic city, hitting many museums and landmarks. A surprising site was the Texas Embassy, a bar and grill decorated with Texas flags and stars.