Last updated: 22.03.11

E-learning 'will transform education'

Online learning technology will permanently change the practice of education, according to one expert.

Former education minister Lord Jim Knight told BBC News that e-learning tools like iTunes U and social networking will give students a greater variety of options, but questioned whether campus-based higher education institutions are prepared for such a change.

"That development of choice and access to quality, and people being digital natives, will, I think, transform things. Whether universities are yet ready to make those changes is another question," he said.

Lord Knight suggested students would prefer to listen to a lecture given by professors who are the best in their fields over the internet rather than settling for second-best at their campus university.

The future could see the arrival of blended learning - courses that combine virtual and actual classes, he added.

Earlier this month, Anglia Ruskin University announced a new course in charity and social enterprise management, on which students study part-time in a combination of one-day workshops and online learning.