- The Editor's Column
The second issue of our fourth volume provides practical perspectives on several important themes of today's electronic world. The first three articles are Practice category papers, which are designed to provide an in-depth view of a current problem or issue and provide insightful analysis for both practitioners and researchers. The fourth paper is an Outlook category paper, a category that addresses emerging trends and potential impacts of new issues.
The first two Practice papers focus on Web-based education and online learning environments. The first article is by A. K. Aggarwal, Veena Adlakha, and Tigineh Mersha and is titled "Continuous Improvement Process in Web-Based Education at a Public University." This article takes the intriguing perspective that we can apply continuous improvement concepts to Web-based education. The authors provide a detailed example of what their own school has accomplished and, by virtue of that detail, provide all of us with real food for thought in terms of our own experience and potential.
The second article is by Chirag Patel and Taran Patel and is titled "Exploring a Joint Model of Conventional and Online Learning Systems." This second article dovetails very nicely with the first one by introducing a model for optimal student learning that integrates both conventional and online approaches. In the process of developing their model, these authors give us many good ideas for how online education affects a broad range of issues, from cognition, to affective response, to managerial issues. The article is both eminently practical and founded in interesting theory.
The third Practice article is by Mikko Berg, Topias Marttila, Mauri Kaipainen, and Ilpo Kojo and is titled "Exploring Political Agendas with Advanced Visualizations and Interface Tools." The authors are from a research team that combines academic with industry laboratory experience, working on a project of significance that was implemented in Finnish elections. Their creative use of new visualizations helped citizens to explore information in greater depth than would be possible otherwise. The description of both the tools and the experience should be of interest from several perspectives — as a citizen, a designer, or a policy-maker.
The fourth and final article is an Outlook paper by Harald Salomann, Lutz Kolbe, and Walter Brenner. It is titled "Self-Services in Customer Relationships: Balancing High-Tech and High-Touch Today and Tomorrow." This interesting article challenges us to think about how the long-established concept of self-service can be enhanced with the [End Page 1] best technologies of today and the near future. The authors develop three significant trends that balance high-tech with high-touch. This outlook on self-service is something we can all identify with, both from frustrating personal experiences and the chance to see a vision for something better.
We have a change in our Senior Editors to announce in this issue. Senior Editor Ramesh Venkataraman is concluding his term with the journal and we express our regret at seeing him leave, along with our sincere appreciation for the contribution he has made while with us. Professor Venkataraman has served since the journal's inception and, for the last few years, has been the Senior Editor specializing in Practice and Outlook articles. In fact, all four articles in this issue were accepted by Professor Venkataraman, thus it is especially fitting to thank him for his service in this particular issue. His work has been instrumental in shaping these papers and the Practice and Outlook formats overall, and we appreciate his significant help with developing the strategic direction of the journal.
The following Associate Editors have also concluded their terms: Professors Jane Fountain, Dianne Jordan, and Cara Okleshen Peters. We thank all of them for their support of and commitment to the journal from the start.
As always, we actively invite different perspectives and articles on the wide variety of topics related to the over-arching concept of electronic services. Prospective authors should feel free to contact our office anytime with questions about potential submissions. We are particularly interested in proposals for special issues on topics relevant to the journal, and again, please contact our office directly if you are interested in pursuing a special...