Students in Bournemouth will be learning via the Net in a pilot scheme announced Wednesday.
21,000 students in the borough will take part in the trial, which will see users logging on to educational content Web site digitalbrain.co.uk for step-by-step national curriculum tutorials and educational courses. New content, including video-streamed TV classes and interactive curriculum quizzes are planned over the coming months.
As well as receiving content for each National Curriculum subject, pupils will be able to store their work in an individual "power station" on the site.
Chairman of Bournemouth's education committee, Stephen Chappell believes the scheme will demonstrate the practical applications of Net learning. "For the first time we have the practical means of linking the work done in our schools, colleges and libraries directly to the homes of the school pupils who do the work," he said.
Department for Education's Keith Holder, responsible for wiring all schools in the UK to the Internet, welcomed the scheme. "Digitalbrain PowerStations will be an exciting addition to the National Grid for Learning and we look forward to the results of the Bournemouth pilot," he said in a statement.
Digitalbrain's chief executive officer David Clancy believes the service will replace the traditional curriculum for the Bournemouth students. "For these pupils, our system wll be the core tool for curriculum delivery," he says.
Clancy accepts that the vision is not practical until Web browsers and broadband are readily available but thinks things are moving in the right direction. "We are talking to a major cable company for broadband delivery to Bournemouth and free access for pupils is looking very probable," he said. "At the moment this service will support the curriculum but our vision is that it will replace it," he said.
Access to the content on digitalbrain.co.uk is free to schools but pupils who want to study from home will have to pay a £9.95 fee for each subject module.