eLearning can help Europe become the most competitive knowledge-based economy in the world by 2010

Brussels 20 January 2005The eLearning Industry Group (eLIG), a consortium of 43 leading ICT and eLearning content providers believes that if the European Union is to achieve its objective of being the most competitive knowledge-based economy in the world by 2010, there is a need to actively support the widespread deployment and adoption of eLearning throughout Europe, in education, in the home and in industry, especially among SMEs.

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Human resources are the Union's main asset. Investment in this area is a determining factor of growth and productivity. In today's dynamic environment skills and competencies need to be continuously updated and renewed, lifelong learning must become a reality in a knowledge society. Continuous learning cannot be achieved in the traditional ways only, hence learning needs to be increasingly supported and enhanced by technology. Also access to education and lifelong learning is a key ingredient of a socially inclusive society.

eLearning has the potential to deliver dramatic benefits for society by increasing the speed and degree of dissemination of knowledge, by facilitating knowledge and skills acquisition, by providing flexible learning opportunities for students and citizens, personalising learning and by creating new collaborative learning opportunities. eLearning is an efficient and cost-effective tool for fostering workforce development, it can lead to cost savings through better utilisation of a users time, efficiencies in personnel resources in institutions providing education and training as well as reductions in physical requirements.

Supporting the call by Mr. Wim Kok, former Prime Minister of The Netherlands, for urgent action to achieve the Lisbon objectives, the eLIG in its contribution to the midterm review of the Lisbon Agenda, considers that much more needs to be done to promote the mass diffusion of eLearning. The eLIG believes that the mass diffusion of eLearning will stimulate the ICT and digital content markets in Europe, thus enabling the European Union to further develop its Software and Services industry in this emerging market. It will also permit all members of society whether in traditional educational settings, the workplace or at home to acquire and enhance skills needed for today's knowledge-based society.

The eLearning Industry Group strongly recommends a dedicated focus on eLearning as a key enabler to achieve the Lisbon objectives. This requires a stronger co-ordination between the different Commission Services involved in the subject. The eLIG therefore recommends the establishment of a Task Force consisting of all key stakeholders to draw up a strategy and an action plan for eLearning focusing on the following action lines:

  • Directing more public investment into the broad-based deployment of eLearning and better co-ordination of existing (fragmented) funding programmes;
  • Promoting the development of a strong and vibrant European eContent Industry;
  • Committing to open standards for ICT and Content as a means to stimulate market growth and innovation;
  • Increase the focus on educators as change agents and facilitators of the transformation.

According to Mr. Richard Straub, eLIG Chairman, eLearning has the potential to become a key enabler to achieve the Lisbon objectives. He said that Europe now needs a comprehensive and holistic strategy for eLearning to overcome the fragmented approaches that are currently taking place and called upon the Commission to make eLearning a key component of the eEurope 2010 strategy.

Mr. Fabrizio Cardinali, eLIG Vice-Chair added that by leveraging its cultural diversity and its lead in mobile technologies Europe could be come a leader in learning innovation and thus stimulate the ICT and digital content markets in Europe, fostering a rapid adoption of new Mobile, Wireless and Broadband technologies for Learning and Cultural Heritage, empowering students and trainees with ubiquitous and personalised access is the key turning point for increasing the competitiveness of Europe's troubled publishing industry.


Leslie Versweyveld

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