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Lessons of a virtual timetable

>From Financial Times: Feb. 15th
Selected paragraphs below:

for full article see:

The market for e-learning has been slow to take off. What does that say
about its future?

PEARSON, a large British media group that owns 50% of The Economist, is
betting much of its future on the market for online education. Already the
world's biggest "education company", Pearson plans to dominate what
Marjorie Scardino, the firm's chief executive, told analysts at the end of
January is a potentially vast market for electronically delivered teaching
material.  ....

This month, Vivendi launched education.com <http://www.education.com>, a
portal through which parents, teachers and children can communicate and
gain electronic access to material based on the books of its Havas media
subsidiary. Other firms see opportunities in supplying universities with
the software and advice needed to put their lessons and administration
online. ....

Belief in e-learning, as it is often called, has so far weathered the
downturn in the wider dotcom world. John Chambers, the influential CEO of
Cisco, which supplies much of the Internet's hardware, asserts that the
scale of network traffic generated by e-learning will make today's
exchange of e-mail messages look like a rounding error.  ....

Consider UCLA <http://www.ucla.edu/>, the University of California, Los
Angeles, a prime candidate for advanced electronic learning methods if
ever there was one. ....The university's extension programmes are using
the Internet widely-to teach from a distance, for example, a course on
hotel management. But they still lose money. An immense effort by the
School of Dentistry to create an online course to educate periodontists
around the world cost some $750,000 and took five years to create: again,
it has been a commercial failure.  ....

Prominent universities have therefore tended to band together for support
in the early stages of exploring e-learning, and they have often launched
their efforts under names other than their own, even though they have some
of the strongest brands in education. The business schools of Columbia, in
New York, the University of Chicago, the London School of Economics,
Stanford in California and Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh, for example,
have teamed up behind Cardean University
<http://www.cardean.edu/cgi-bin/cardean1/view/public_home.jsp>, an early
effort at an online institution for tertiary education ....

There are more than 250 firms eager to help established universities to go
online. These firms build the Internet infrastructure and manage the
electronic delivery of classes. Cardean, for example, is the work of UN
<>ext <http://www.unext.com/>, an Illinois company that grew out of
Knowledge Universe, an education business started by Larry Ellison, the
CEO of Oracle, and Michael Milken, the developer of the junk bond market
who spent 24 months in jail for fraud. Several prominent business
schools-including Wharton at the University of Pennsylvania, Fuqua at Duke
University, and INSEAD, near Paris-have worked with Pensare
<http://www.pensare.com/index.asp>, a company based in Sunnyvale,
California, to put their material online. A host of other firms, including
Blackboard <http://www.blackboard.com/>, Campus Pipeline
<http://www.campuspipeline.com/>, eCollege <http://www.ecollege.com/> and
Web <>CT <http://www.webct.com/>, offer different platforms for putting
course material on the Internet and for building a student community
around the material. ....

Boxmind <http://www.boxmind.com/>, with a number of Oxford University
academics on its board, is another such ambitious project. By putting
"star" academics at the centre of a stage away from their home
institutions, websites such as GEN and Boxmind threaten (if they take off)
to raise the tension between universities and their faculty over the
ownership of intellectual property. With e-learning sites offering
students access to the best teachers without having to call in at their
institutional home, there is a danger that the universities' academic
superstars may choose to go solo.

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