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Lecturers slow to exploit Internet

LECTURERS are losing out on hundreds of Internet-based teaching jobs because they lack the training or fail to see them as real opportunities.

Jobs are being created through initiatives such as the University for Industry Learndirect scheme which aims to attract at least a million students over the next three years.

More than 2.5 million are also expected to log on over the same period for information, guidance and advice on learning opportunities.

Much of the learning will be online, but there will also be considerable demand for tutors and advisers to help build the confidence of adult returners and guide them through courses.

Some advisory work is through the Internet but much is face-to - face in learning centres, many of them college-based, being set up under the UFI initiative.

But college managers have alerted government advisers to the need for a huge retraining programme for lecturers and support staff as the emphasis shifts further from lesson planning, teaching and marking to learning support.

The speed of change emerged in reports from managers in England and Wales at the Association for College Management annual conference in Cardiff this week.

Graham Pycock, dean of business school t Bromley College said: "Our learning centre is spectacularly successful, recruiting more than 100 new learners this term. But this has not involved a single lecturer. Staff are beginning to notice.There is a serious danger of staff becoming so worried that I am concerned they end up viewing the whole thing negatively rather than positively," he said.

All the evidence considered at the conference showed that the new "e-jobs" would be at least as demanding, as traditional teaching jobs.

Nadine Cartner, ACM education officer, said: "If we look at the big agenda of the knowledge economy, the key driver for the Government is Britain's poor skills base.

"The problem is that we have high-skill elites and poor diffuse skills for the rest of the population. Tackling that is the colleges' core business and we must invest in staff training to succeed."

Anne Wright, chief executive of the UFI, said: "We are establishing a particular style of learning, roll-on, roll-off and not restricted to traditional attendance patterns. This does not mean there will no longer be taught courses. But induction and support will be more important than specialist


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