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UK Govt chucks £50m at e-learning

No substitute for teachers

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The Government is splashing out £50 million to put the national curriculum online.

The move is designed to provide teachers and pupils with a wide range of stimulating media-rich classroom material to aid their studies.

The Government claims that it will help teachers spend more time motivating and teaching pupils by providing access to lesson materials on the Net.

It also hopes that "Curriculum Online" will raise standards by allowing students to progress at their own pace.

Education and Skills Secretary Estelle Morris pupils said: "Curriculum Online unlocks the potential for all pupils to learn in exciting ways. It will also enable us to move towards greater individualised learning, with each pupil learning more flexibly and according to their own needs.

She added: "It will be an incredibly important tool for teachers in helping them to plan lessons. Curriculum Online will provide teachers with the best resources available and will free them up to do what they do best - teaching."

However, a spokeswoman for the National Union of Teachers (NUT) expressed concern that the shift towards greater use of computers is at the expense of traditional teaching values.

"Computers must not be seen as a substitute for teachers, practical experience or text books," she warned.

Curriculum Online raises a skills issue, according to the NUT which wants to ensure that teachers are properly trained to use the new technology.

And since the material is available for students to use outside schools hours, there are also fears that such reliance on Internet-based learning will disadvantage those children who don't have access to a PC at home.

Aside from the prospect of enforcing a digital divide, there are some who believe the influence of the Internet could have a damaging impact on children's education.

In October, psychologist Susan Blackmore from the University of the West of England in Bristol, said that "the growing influence of the Internet on education could damage children's ability to learn".

Speaking during a debate at the Royal Institution in London Dr Blackmore said that instead of memorising facts and knowledge, the greater use of the Net meant that children's approach to learning was fundamentally different to their parents', the Guardian reported. ®

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