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Online learning: towards enabling choice

Ferguson, J.D. and Wilson, J. and Weir, G.R.S. (2003) Online learning: towards enabling choice. In: Proceedings of the International Conference on Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, (ICHed2003). IEEE.

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Education is rapidly evolving from an opportunity that was provided mainly for an elite to one that is available to a mass markets and as such is prone to the forces generated by this environment. Where, in the established pattern, commercial interest was limited mainly to the use of skills developed during the educational process, the future model of educational provision will involve extensive commercial activity in the production, delivery and marketing of material. Already there are a number of commercial companies offering framework products enabling "off the shelf solutions" for the construction and delivery of web based courses in any subject area. The commercialisation of education is underway and it is inevitable that it will be viewed, by entrepreneurs and customers alike, as any other commercial product. It would seem reasonable that the consumer should be able to evaluate the performance of these new modes of working in a similar manner to other commercial products. This paper draws together current thinking on the problems associated with evaluating computer and communication based learning.