The Internet is attracting a growing number of distance learning companies, presenting opportunities for both students and Internet stock hounds. Several public and private education-related companies this week announced plans to expand on the Internet, bringing a variety of services to the thousands of U.S. professionals needing more training.
According to The Learning Network, Inc., a private company testing the online education waters, there is plenty of money to be made in online adult education. U.S. organizations spend more than $60 billion (US$) each year on continuing education and training for employees and managers, Learning.Net estimates.
For investors still faithful to the booming Internet economy, the new world of Internet education offers such companies as 7thStreet.com (Nasdaq: SEVL), Global DataTel Inc. (OTC BB: GDIS) and EDUVERSE Accelerated Learning Systems, Inc. (OTC BB: EDUV).
Teaching Computing to Web Users
Rhode Island Technology Council’s 7thStreet.com is teaming with Cytation.com (OTC BB: CYTA) to add more than 150 information technology courses on the 7thStreet distance learning Web site. The site provides interactive online training courses and tutorials for professionals in the growing online communications field. Subjects include how to use popular business software programs, programming, networking and navigating the Internet.
7thStreet.com plans to announce soon a deal with America Online to make its full roster of 200 courses available to AOL users. The company already has agreements with a dozen online companies including AOL’s CompuServe, Gateway Computers, and IBM.
Learning.Net also launched a new online learning site this week focusing on continuing education, recurrent training and certification programs for professionals and businesses. Students control the pace of their coursework at Learning.Net, and testing or certification exams are graded online with instant feedback. The site will also send notification to professional organizations or state boards when a student completes a course. Professional organizations and corporations can also track students’ progress through tailored administrative tools available at the site.
Learning.Net forms strategic alliances with professional organizations, who supply course material for the students and give Learning.Net direct access to their members. In exchange, Learing.Net kicks back royalties from the sale of the continuing education courses. Learning.Net also tailors learning programs for companies needing to train groups of employees on equipment that requires frequent re-certification.
Niche Education Also Available
Meanwhile, subject-specific educational services are also expanding into cyberspace. Global DataTel and EDUVERSE are tapping the rapidly growing Hispanic population for their online school. Global DataTel’s eHOLA.com Online Service Network plans to provide online instruction in conversational English, putting EDUVERSE’s “freeEnglish” program its Web site.
EDUVERSE will offer Spanish and Portuguese versions of the English as a second language program, for use on the Web site or for sale on a subscription CD eHOLA.com offers on its site.
Variations of the English program are also available through Internet service providers in China and Thailand and at EDUVERSE’s freeENGLISH.com web portal. EDUVERSE and eHOLA.com hope to promote the program for use in schools as well.
Kids will see a benefit from the online education boom, as well. While their primary source of learning remains the classroom, where computers are becoming more prevalent, TopTutors.com launched this week to offer personal instruction at home for students needing a boost in reading or math. The pilot project runs through September and targets children in grades 2 through 6. Students in the program get up to two hours of free tutoring each week for three.
The TopTutors.com program eliminates the need for students or tutors to travel to get extra help, and it uses computers’ multimedia capabilities to make the learning experience more interesting. After the test period, TopTutors.com plans to expand the grade range for reading and math students and add new subject areas.