impact on education at all levels. In the past, new technologies such as the telephone, radio, television, cassettes, satellites, and computers were all predicted to bring about a revolution in education. However, after the initial hype, these new technologies left a marginal impact on the general practice of education, each finding a niche, but not changing the essential process of a teacher
personally interacting with learners.
However, the Internet and, especially, the World Wide Web are different, both in the scale and the nature of their impact on education. Certainly, the web has penetrated teaching and learning much more than any other previous technology, with the important exception of the printed book. Indeed, it is possible to see parallels between the social and educational influence of both mechanically printed books and the Internet on post-secondary education, and these parallels will be explored a little further in this chapter.
The application of the Internet to teaching and learning has had both strong advocates and equally strong critics. Electronic learning has been seized upon as the next commercial development of the Internet, a natural extension of ecommerce.
John Chambers, the CEO of the giant American Internet equipment company, Cisco, described education as the next Internet “killer application” at the Comdex exhibition in Las Vegas in 2001 (Moore and Jones, 2001). Chambers linked several concepts together: e-learning is necessary to improve the quality of education; e-learning is necessary to improve the quality of the workforce; and a highly qualified technology workforce is essential for national economic development and competitiveness.