One of the greatest inhibitors facing education companies is not only how to deliver courses to busy people anywhere around the world, but generate economies of scale and healthy profits.
Australian education content provider Entertainment World Limited (EWL) is not only harnessing the Internet as a delivery mechanism, but is pushing the Internet's next boundary: video on demand.
The company this month embarked on a 12-month trial of an Internet-based video on demand system developed by Ericsson and content producer Simson Media.
Known as the Multimedia Hotel (MMH), the product is designed to allow users access to digital content such as video, audio or presentation slides across the Internet or corporate networks.
Evan McGregor, EWL's managing director, said the MMH gives the company the ability to develop into an owner, producer and distributor of educational material around the world.
"There are no theoretical boundaries," he said.
McGregor said MMH promises to improve both the distribution of digital content and reduce the cost of access to the material while improving EWL's own profits.
"The Multimedia Hotel allows clients to tailor the type and amount of information to their individual needs. They can order the exact amount of information they need rather than have one size that fits all. Why buy a two-hour video if you only want 10 minutes?" he asked.
Telecommunications reseller Davnet is also on Ericsson's MMH bandwagon, earlier this month receiving a licence for the product to enable it to cost-effectively carry video and multimedia content across its IP-based network.
The economies of scale for EWL using the technology are such that McGregor believes the long-distance learning business is about to undergo a transformation.
McGregor wrote in a statement sent to the ASX: "The size of the education market in Australia alone runs into the hundreds of millions of dollars, and with the release of MMH, EWL's objective of winning a large share of both the market here and overseas will be significantly advanced."
EWL believes it is one of the first education content and distribution providers to investigate the commercial use of video on demand technology.
With the combination of content and Internet-based delivery services, McGregor said the company has the opportunity to find new business across the Asia-Pacific and around the world.
"We think we've got a fairly unique product," he said.
"We believe this service will significantly increase our revenue over the next couple of years."
A key component of the revenue generation comes from a reduction in cost, achieved by using converged voice, video and data technologies.
"I believe in the theory of convergent technologies," McGregor said.