The Western Governors University is taking a tentative first step into cyberspace with the posting of a pilot edition of its class schedule on the Internet.

The test phase of the computer-based school's "smart catalog" will begin this week, and WGU's first students are expected to enroll this spring.The catalog, which will link colleges within WGU's 17 member states, will be on the World Wide Web. It is designed to teach students about WGU degree programs and help them select classes. Students also will be able to use the catalog to enroll.

The catalog's test phase probably will last into spring, when the school intends to be operation on a trial basis, said WGU spokesman Jeff Edwards.

"It's a pretty complex task. We've got a lot of systems that have to work together seamlessly," he said. "It's going to take a couple of months."

Once running, WGU will offer competency-based associate of arts and associate of applied science degrees.

Competency-based degrees do not require students to take specific courses. Instead, WGU students will be given credit for what they have learned, not where they learned it. Degrees will be awarded when students pass the required tests.

The other goal of WGU is to expand course offerings for students at existing public colleges by linking the schools.

Beyond the technical challenges, WGU staffers are also working on accreditation for the school.