6 February 2008

Throughout the last month at UKFast we’ve welcomed a number of educational sites onto our network. This influx reminds us just how useful the internet is as a learning tool, and how many institutions are now beginning to realise this.

Typically, schools, colleges and universities have used the internet as a place to display achievements and attract new pupils. Universities in particular have to market their courses, and the internet is an obvious place to do this.

In recent years however, many learning institutions are modifying their online presence to include materials for study. Programmes are now in effect which offer direct access to lecture notes. And more and more, institutions use the internet to establish social networking sites for communications between pupils and teachers.

Due to the many different variations in content, online learning can be undertaken in many unique ways. Video clips, interactive features, PDFs, graphics, webinars and forums are backed by the fact that the internet is the largest publicly accessible store of information on the planet.

But is all this making our scholars more intelligent, or simply more lazy, as they know they’ll always have the answers at their fingertips.

In my opinion, the internet for scholars serves the same purpose as the calculator for mathematicians. Even a student with the greatest store of information possible cannot benefit from it if they don’t have the background knowledge to begin with. Just as with a top of the range calculator, if you don’t know the theories it doesn’t matter which buttons you press, you won’t get the correct answer.

What the internet does provide to learners is the possibility to do research and therefore complete work more quickly. And businesses can benefit too.

Online webinars by Google already play a large part in the training of the UKFast marketing team. Watching a live seminar on the web eliminates the need to travel to far flung locations (like London) and gives up to the minute information from expert speakers.

Basically it levels the playing-field of learning for businesses around the world. Unlike reading text online, you are also given the option to ask questions which are answered immediately.

I’m pleased to see that educational and business establishments are taking note of the internet as it is a valuable educational resource. Organisations are taking the internet very seriously by hosting sites on dedicated servers, helping them to provide a high level of service and cope with volumes of traffic.

Amazing revelations are taking place in educational online content already and I am very excited to find out where it will lead.

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