Last updated: 01.09.11

Online learning tools 'could help schools facing ICT budget constraints'

Using online training applications to assist with education curriculum goals could help schools facing budgetary constraints, an expert has claimed.

As the economic conditions force schools to make tougher choices in terms of material provisions for education, the vice chair of Naace, the ICT Association, has claimed that open source software and online tools which provide forms of e-learning could help as spending is rolled back.

Miles Berry, who is also a senior lecturer in ICT education at the University of Roehampton, said: "With limited technology budgets, schools are going to have to be ever more careful to ensure that they make the best use of what they have and obtain best value from future spending."

He added that as ICT and virtual learning have become integral parts of modern education, further problems could be posed "when existing kit comes up for renewal".

Previously, Mr Berry has argued that, compared to teachers, students have accepted technology as an indispensible aid to studying. Many students now regularly use the internet as part of a distance learning online course, as well as to perform less structured, but certainly just as viable, actions which contribute to their learning.

Students can access and contribute "to vast collections of information and media" through the internet as well as "explore ideas in ways which would otherwise be impossible", he explained.

The steady proliferation of e-learning solutions was recently demonstrated through a new trial among American school districts offering a greater number of online courses for their pupils, Education Week reported.

America's Promise Alliance, a not-for-profit organisation established by former serving US Army General Colin Powell, is underwriting the $1 million (£613,500) cost of the scheme. In total, four districts across America will form part of the trial, which is expected to last for an initial three years. However, if the project proves popular, it could be extended.