from Internet Business

The Internet is changing education in two ways. It is creating a demand for education in use of the Internet itself, and it is creating a means for much more flexible delivery of education. For reasons of access and awareness, new approaches to delivery can be readily pioneered in courses relating to Internet use. However, at this early stage, the training needs of Net users and developers have not generally consolidated into traditional academic course structures and are more often met through more informal means.

Education and the Internet has been a major focus of policy research in advanced economies over the past two years, with much attention on issues of access. A recent study has flagged the need for a universal approach to 'information literacy' as a key step in preparing the general population to function in the information economy through 'life long learning' to keep up with continuing change and with the information explosion.

The Australian Federal and State Governments have funded a range of approaches to 'open learning' as a way to make education and training more widely accessible. Open Net and EdNA[1] are both based on Internet access for the delivery of course materials and for communication with teachers.

Internationally, the past two years have produced a growing number of trials for more sophisticated use of the Internet in education, in particular the development of 'virtual' classrooms and schools which host educational activities for a dispersed audience. Access to library catalogues and to a rapidly growing range of educational materials is also available over the Net.

Within Australia, almost all the funding available for educational innovation comes from within 'the system', leaving little space for private ventures to offer innovative educational services. However, there are many opportunities across most Internet business categories for specialisation in the education market which, with the funding that it is receiving, is a driving force in use of the Net. There is already one Access Provider specialising in providing connections to schools, as well as a political commitment that all schools will have Net access within the next few years.

[1] Education Network Australia