The viability of for-profit delivery of educational content to children at home over the Internet
Miriam Ruth Cilo, Teachers College, Columbia University, United States
Teachers College, Columbia University . Awarded
In the year 2000, about 25 million children under 18 will have access to the internet. Already, the internet has become a viable medium for entertainment and commerce. Is it a viable medium for learning? This dissertation synthesizes theoretical constructs widely used by educators and business analysts to test the creation of a new industry: for-profit delivery of educational content over the internet to children at home.
The literature review offers background information in telecommunications, education and multimedia technology and such business concepts as market and financial analysis.
The viability test is applied to a contrived product that is: available through a streamed narrowband or through a broadband system; fully interactive; intended to increase capability through such pedagogical processes as constructivism; and is used exclusively at home.
The methodology examines infrastructure--current and projected capacity--and economics. Specific phenomena include: infrastructure and related costs; size and growth rate of the market for internet curricula; revenue potential thereof; expenses associated with production and distribution; industry break-even point; firm profitability (return on investment versus cost of capital); and go/no-go criterion for an investment decision. Data include technical, demographic, and actual financial information from five publically-traded companies that intend to pursue an internet-based business model.
Analysis indicates that for-profit delivery of educational content over the internet to children at home is not viable. The financial benefit does not offset the burden. "What if" analysis indicates the possibility of a false negative result. Overly conservative assumptions may erroneously depress return on investment. The dissertation discusses reasons why a firm might forego profitability to create competitive advantages, such as goodwill and general insight into the growing online industry.
Finally, the dissertation holds that the internet is a useful learning medium and exhorts policy makers for public education to exploit the internet. Recommendations include forming non-profit consortia that can leverage private and public assets. The dissertation concludes with suggestions for further research that would enhance the likelihood and effectiveness of providing children with an internet learning medium.
Cilo, M.R. The viability of for-profit delivery of educational content to children at home over the Internet. Ph.D. thesis, Teachers College, Columbia University.
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