In the early Nineties, U.S. universities started giving students access to the Internet. The use of e-mail became so common among students and instructors that voicemail was demoted to secondary status. The explosive growth of the Internet, in fact, has changed the essential character of delivering educational content to remote students. The terms "distance learning" and "telematics" were coined to describe the process (see our glossary).
The Internet is becoming the medium of choice for educators, since it provides all the elements vital for distance learning:
Immediate online access to vast libraries of research materials.
On-demand delivery of video, text, & graphics.
Real-time interaction among instructors & students.
Video Arts (co-founded by Monty Python veteran John Cleese) has created a multimedia division producing CD-ROMs, & moving into "self-learning" packages for delivery over the Internet.
Whether the target markets is educational institutions, organizations, or the growing audience of folks at home committed to lifelong learning, the educational media business will keep growing. As speed improves, more information will be delivered over the Internet.
We live in an increasingly interdependent, information-based, knowledge-driven economy. Those who can use the new media to learn whatever they want and need, are the best prepared to take advantage of the media systems emerging over the next few decades. Those lacking deep media literacy may be left behind. Knowledge is power in any society, but in the new knowledge economy, ignorance is bondage.
The best way to develop markets for educational media products is to do the groundwork now to develop a large base of educated people who want and need educational content. Individuals and companies that invest in the educational media marketplace today will be the best positioned tomorrow. Online degrees are a key element in this whole evolution.
Sources: North Carolina State University at Raleigh, University of Anatolia (Turkey) and our own research.