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RealTime IT News

iTV Gets Serious

[Sydney, AUSTRALIA] Those of us who thought interactive TV would provide yet another means of procrastination and sloth are in for an unpleasant surprise, with iTV pioneer ICE Interactive announcing that four Australian education and training providers have joined its pilot in the NSW town of Orange.

St. John Ambulance Australia, University of Sydney (Faculty of Rural Management, Orange), Access OnLine and MindAtlas.com, have joined hands with ICE to ensure that iTV offers more than just the ultimate pizza commercial.

ICE managing director, Carl Braden said the pilot would help educators reach students in regional and rural areas, who live too far from course venues and major institutions.

"The almost universal penetration of television provides a vehicle for delivering online education nationally," he said. "We are also testing the use of the medium in schools and providing cost-effective alternatives for online access."

Participants in the Orange trial are equipped with set top boxes which receive digital "triggers" embedded in analogue television signals. "In our new learning programs, pilot participants will utilize a range of ICE's iTV applications and services. Since people behave differently with their television sets than with their computers, the pilot is exploring ways of translating PC-based online education into the interactive television environment," Braden added.

The University of Sydney said the majority of students participating in its pilot did not previously have Internet and e-mail access - many did not have a personal computer. The students will access interactive learning modules via their television set and interact in virtual tutorials. St. John Ambulance Australia will use iTV to teach segments of its first aid courses to Orange pilot participants. This is expected to reduce the hours of face-to-face teaching and travel needed to complete courses.

Access OnLine is an e-learning company which will use iTV as a channel for presenting online training courses in customer service skills, business writing skills, media skills online, and strategic process improvement.

Appealing to a less professionally oriented market, MindAtlas.com will deliver courses such as "How to Achieve Intimacy," a Book Club with publisher HarperCollins, and "The Holocaust."

Local schools will also participate, offering services such as homework help.