Jacques Perriault

Access to Online Knowledge

It is now possible to research and organise information and study online, through the Internet and with the help of satellites. Users’ needs are only rarely met by the services providing on-line information. However, the users themselves are constantly innovating and creating new ways of exchanging information on-line, developing reciprocity and collective relations. The euphoric claims made for e-learning in the past, and the posturing strategies of telecommunications operators, were followed by a profound feeling of disillusion. What remains of those dreams of profit and of the “virtual” trend? What is left that is really useful now or may be useful in the future? The author examines this questions from several different angles :
– From the historical angle: the information available online is part of the long Western tradition of making use of the media (other than books) to further the spread of knowledge.
– The cognitive and educational angle: mastering the Internet implies using specific skills, which the school system must develop.
– The political angle: individual states and the international community must conceive of and put into practice public policies that will develop, in a lasting manner, the use of online networks to help reduce social inequalities.

Jacques Perriault teaches media and communications studies at the University of Paris-X-Nanterre. He heads the committee regulating norms and standards in on-line teaching for AFNOR. For eleven years, he was the director of the department of research and innovation for France’s Centre National d’enseignement à distance. He is the author of The Logic of Usage(Flammarion), Distance Communication and Learning(L’Harmattan) and Education and new technologies (Nathan).