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European e-learning group states its mission


The new European e-learning industry group has announced its aims, which are preproduced below. This piece was contributed by LINE Communications, which is among the fifteen companies involved in the group so far.

Demonstrating commitment to learning in Europe and a commitment to public-private partnership, fifteen companies have come together to help Europe become the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world through the use of e-learning in schools, universities, the workplace and homes.

The E-learning industry group, born of the May 2001 "E-learning summit", will work with the European Commission, national governments - who recently established e-learning as a priority in forthcoming plans for eEurope 2005 - and academia to undertake innovative projects to promote e-learning deployment in Europe.

The industry group will provide advice to the European Commission and other national governments across Europe in essential areas such as information technology and telecommunications infrastructure, open standards that facilitate the exchange of e-learning content, development of a sustainable market for e-learning content and
development of crucial professional and personal skills.

The founding members of the industry consulting group - 3Com, Accenture, Apple, BT, Cisco, Digitalbrain, IBM, Intel, Line Communications, NIIT, Nokia, Online Courseware Factory, Sanoma WSOY, Sun Microsystems and Vivendi Universal Publishing - will work closely in partnership with public institutions such as governments, schools and training organisations to implement the four key initiatives, as follows:
1. Connecting everyone and everything from everywhere - removing the barriers that prevent people of all ages and from all sectors of society from having access to interactive eLearning environments.

2. Adopt and participate in the development of open standards of eLearning - so that international open standards, together with technological innovation and free market competition will deliver solutions that encourage broad participation in eLearning.

3. Create the conditions to sustain a commercial market for eLearning content and development - so that education and training institutions can buy digital content and use it as an essential part of delivering eLearning.

4. Increase investment in continuous professional development of teachers and trainers, enhancing their status, and helping them develop and understand the principles for eLearning - ensuring that educators in all areas of life are recognised and rewarded as crucial in the successful development of the information society and a knowledge economy.

Newly elected chairman of the eLearning Industry Group, Richard Straub said: "The aim of the industry group is to turn talk into action. We have developed four concrete initiatives that will make a positive, fundamental change in overcoming the hurdles faced by Europe when it comes to lifelong eLearning. Over the next six to 24 months, working groups will take charge of each of these initiatives to make eLearning a reality - in schools, the corporate environment and at home. The aim is for all European citizens - of all ages and in all walks of life - to benefit and, as a result, for Europe to build on its traditions of strong educational institutions to become a world leader in learning in the digital age."

The eLearning Industry Group is an open group and welcomes involvement from other industry players. The composition of the group will reflect the diversity of industry representation in the field of eLearning. It will also be used as a forum to develop industry-wide public policy
recommendations that will be presented to the national governments of Europe.

Andy Key, of LINE Communications says, "We are delighted to be involved in the shaping of the future success of the European e-learning industry. We fully support the work of the I.C.G to ensure that the European e-learning industry benefits from best practice demonstrated in the USA, and learn from their mistakes.

"We're playing catch-up on this side of the Atlantic - make no mistake about it. On one hand we must ensure that the European industry does not become too US-focused, and is able to develop an identity and vibrancy of its own that fits the European business and learning models. However we mustn't get bogged down in recreating things that have already been done well in the US - standards for example. If we do, the gap will never close.

"Ensuring that e-learning is both engaging and compelling for the learner, provides genuine business performance improvements, and contributes to the EU's goals for lifelong learning is central to ensuring the success of the e-Learning industry."


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