E-Learning the next 'big thing'

Online education must play a role in reducing the local and international IT skills shortage, Cisco Systems Australian and New Zealand managing director Terry Walsh said yesterday.

Speaking at the Australian Technology User Group conference, Walsh said e-learning would be the next "big thing" on the internet, and could save businesses between 40 and 60 per cent on education in contrast to traditional classroom training.

Walsh said online education could also provide the residents of rural and regional Australia with educational opportunities previously unavailable to them.

He said the skills shortage threatened the outlook of the local IT industry, which was "fundamental to Australia's future economic performance".

Walsh said 80 per cent of Cisco's sales and technical training was done over the net, and said the company's internet business system was generating 15 million hits a month on the company's internal website alone.

He said Cisco, now the world's biggest company, valued at just over $US500 billion, had begun to "pull away from its competitors" after introducing internet-based solutions to reduce the cost of many regular corporate expenses such as customer and employee services.

Walsh said Cisco's ecommerce site was averaging $1 million in sales every month, over half of which he said were completed by virtual manufacturers.

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