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Tuesday, October 5, 1999 Published at 15:56 GMT 16:56 UK


Online future for higher education

Bill Gates donated $1bn towards education last month

The use of advanced technology in higher education is to be the subject of a major research project in the United States.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Microsoft are to work together on "Project I-Campus", a five-year investigation into how technologies such as the internet can be used to improve how universities teach their students.

With $25m funding from Microsoft, the first stage of the project will examine how the delivery of three courses might benefit from new technology.

Among these will be an engineering course, taught at MIT but also shared by students at the National University of Singapore.

'Important impact'

The project will examine how internet and communications technologies can improve distance-learning and the sharing of resources by learners in different countries.

Microsoft says that it sees education as one of the areas in which communications technology can make an important impact. It will also benefit from the collaboration with MIT by gaining the first option on patenting any discoveries or developments made by the project.

Last month, the founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates, announced that he was to donate $1bn to fund university scholarships for students from ethnic minorities.

The scholarships will pay for at least 1,000 high school students to study education, maths, science and engineering over the next 20 years.

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