With more than 60 companies engaged in the e-learning sector, Ireland is poised to capitalise internationally on the e-learning phenomenon. However, a conference heard earlier today, there is some way to go before the benefits of e-learning are fully exploited in the interests of Ireland’s society and economy.
Brendan O’Sullivan, chief executive of Thirdforce plc, speaking at the national eLearning New Frontiers conference in Dublin this morning, organised by Hibernia College, cited the UK as a prime example of a country that has placed a high priority on upskilling entire population groups with initiatives to provide technology, literacy and numeracy skills through the medium of online learning. “The United States has also grasped the power of e-learning with a market that is currently at over 3.5 billion dollars in 2005.
“With upwards of 60 Irish companies currently engaged in this sector, Ireland is well positioned to address these markets. There is currently a uniquely progressive environment in Ireland between academia, the research community, industry and the Government. We have the technological expertise and educational credentials required to make a major play in the e-learning arena.”
O’Sullivan said that through various initiatives and investments, the Government has achieved very considerable success in the development of national technological infrastructure and in creating a knowledge based economy.
“This in itself has led to the development of a vibrant e-learning sector. However, it is disappointing that the benefits of our technological, educational and economic proficiency have not been used by the State to create widespread levels of public access to education and training, through the medium of e-learning, as is already the case in other highly competitive countries.”
Pointing to the recent establishment of the Learn3K Centre at the National College of Ireland, O’Sullivan said that the establishment of standalone Irish research and development initiatives in e-learning should also become a priority for the State, in order to boost this potential economic growth sector.
He also pointed to eLearning Ireland, a group of key Irish e-learning companies who have established a co-operative forum to promote the development of the industry in Ireland and to advise the State on relevant policy issues. “Ultimately, it is up to all stakeholders with an interest in this area to drive this agenda and to advance Ireland’s position as a global e-learning leader.”
By John Kennedy