Enterprises, educational institutions and individuals worldwide are recognizing that e-learning can be successfully applied to a host of industrial and educational applications, from classroom teaching to vocational training and communicating soft skills.
In recent years the field of e-learning has been given priority in educational research circles in Norway, and e-learning solutions have been employed to ensure that teaching is made available to remote Norwegian communities where bad weather can keep pupils from travelling to schools in urban centres for days at a time.
A number of Norwegian companies are also proving tremendously innovative in this field, developing sophisticated educational software for a wide range of customers. For example, Datapower, an official supplier of approved courseware for Microsoft applications, has become a key player in web-based learning. Its Datapower Online Learning solution is recommended by US company Nivo International, the exclusive provider of the Microsoft Office User Specialist programme. Meanwhile, Fronter recently won a lucrative deal with China to provide 2,500 schools with its modular, web-based Classfronter virtual learning environment where students can undertake projects and interact with one another and their tutors. Fronter also hopes to broker a new deal that will place its tools in 200 Chinese universities.
Involve Learning, another Norwegian company, is at the forefront of soft skills education, which aims to help the managers of staff-intensive businesses to communicate corporate values through interactive web-based training programs. Yet another company, New Learning, has built on the success of its Electronic Classroom software and diversified into video-conferencing with its Aurora Internet system. The company is currently working on speech recognition and language translation technologies to widen the scope and possibilities of online communication.
Boxer Technologies, for its part, is a world leader in developing interactive e-learning tools for a wide range of industries. Its products run the gamut from the brand-new Coursekeeper enterprise-wide learning management system to industry-specific training programs. In the defence and avionics markets, clients for Boxer's PC-based IFDS Simulator (Integrated Flight and Display System) include the Royal Netherlands Air Force, the German Air Force and the Royal Thai Air Force.
At the national level, the Norwegian Confederation of Business and Industry (NHO) recently launched the Norwegian Competence Network (http://www.kompetansenettet.no), an educational initiative that brings together schools, universities and research institutes, private enterprise and individuals in a nationwide digital network for the transfer and sharing of knowledge. The network supplements an existing Internet collaboration between Norwegian colleges and universities, called UNINETT, one of the most sophisticated broadband networks in the world.