Public Sector - Education - Challenges


Learning to live with cost pressure

Pupil using technologyInvestment in e-Learning is already well-advanced in many countries. In Europe many governments have committed substantial sums to creating e-Learning capability and ensuring that all schools have access to the Internet.

Cost is a significant barrier to the expansion of educational access. Building new schools and training and employing more teachers are not options that many education authorities are able to pursue in an environment of strict cost control and budgetary restraints.

Nonetheless, schools, colleges and universities are under pressure to achieve increasingly high standards with little or no concomitant growth in their budgets. Most countries, for example, need to prepare their citizens for a future in which IT skills are paramount, and so training in these areas is vital.

Faster, broader access to on-line resources

The type of content that can be used in e-Learning is a major determinant of the overall success of using the Internet in education. Where access to the Internet is limited to slow dial-up connections, it is likely that the quality of the e-Learning experience will be considerably reduced. The dilemma for schools and universities is to be able to ensure that any investment that they make in networking technology can be upgraded and expanded to keep pace with the growth in media-rich content such as video-on-demand. It is likely that wireless networks, that can be expanded as needs grow, will become a key element of network provision for educational institutions.

Making better content

Where, how and by whom content is created is a further challenge for educational institutions. Many of the mainstream publishers have moved into education, but there are other sources of material - and new ways of putting it together- that are part of the real excitement behind e-Learning.

The ability that the Internet offers for collaboration dispenses with the barriers of time and location. Virtual laboratories, for example, with researchers from across the world working together over the Internet, are just one manifestation of this ability. But, for these opportunities to be grasped, educators must have the tools at their disposal to understand how to capture them. That means training teachers to exploit fully the technology at their disposal, and to move them from the role of transmitting information to helping others to find and create their own information resources.