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Exploiting the Internet

June 26, 2009

Hello again,

The Internet has had a profound effect on the way English language teaching organisations operate. I thought it would be interesting to do a survey of how the Internet is being used. One of the most valuable aspects of the Internet is its accessibility. No matter how ...

...small the organisation may be, an Internet presence is affordable. This means that even the most modest school, even the individual teacher, can build and maintain a website that really does present a shop window to the world.

Perhaps this is the most commonly exploited feature. Just about all schools use the Internet as a marketing tool to offer an online brochure setting out what is on offer.
Of course, the quality of the online presence varies enormously, but generally speaking schools have seen the value of a quality website that gives prospective students a true flavour of what they can expect.

Most substantial organisations go beyond that by offering some sort of interactivity. This ranges from online registration at the most basic level through to online testing and fully-fledged online courses at the other. Inevitably it is the major players who have developed the most sophisticated forms of online learning facilities. And some organisations are making really imaginative use of the Internet now. For example, University of Essex International Academy has launched a virtual campus in Second Life, an online world where you can assume a new persona and identity here . However, it struck me that developments like this require prospective students to be extremely web-savvy and to have a pretty good understanding of English before they can follow the instructions!

One interesting aspect of the use of the Internet to deliver teaching services rather than to use it as a marketing tool is the nature of the fee structure. In an increasingly competitive market, schools face a new challenge with the this virtual learning environment. Free resources of high quality are offered by all sorts of reputable institutions. The BBC, for example, provides high-quality free resources, as do publishers and exam boards. How easy is it, therefore, to attract a fee-paying student body to virtual learning? I suspect the answer lies in a school’s ability to add personal contact into the mix. If students can work online either with real-time contact with a teacher or with a tutor who gives feedback on their work, then I suspect that this formula will attract a fee-paying clientele.

One thing is clear, the Internet over the past few years has become indispensable as a means of communicating for every ELT organisation.

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  1. PJ Says:

    Can anybody tell me how the teaching situation is in Hanoi? Is it a good place to teach?

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