In many other respects the Internet may prove to be a superior delivery mechanism. The chief benefits are the access it provides to communicating with other students and teachers and the fact that it is platform-independent and constantly developing. In practice, however, a student with a low specification PC will experience a frustratingly low response time, although it is highly likely that interactive applications will improve significantly over the next few years. Perhaps the main benefit of the Internet is that it supports other forms of communication such as email discussions and electronic conferencing. The benefits of asynchronous communication have long been recognised, but are not without their drawbacks - student expectation tends to be very high and this puts a huge burden on the teaching staff. If the Internet is to be used to deliver course materials, the course designers will have to think very carefully about the type and level of support which may be provided by teaching staff.
An ideal situation would be where computers were used primarily for delivery and presentation of material, with teaching being supplemented by lecturers based locally. (This is not unlike the way in which the British Open University currently works - course materials are delivered as books, audio and video cassettes but learning support in the form of tutorials and assignment marking and feedback is carried out by associate lecturers who are responsible for a relatively small group of students. Such an approach is expensive, but in the long term reaps benefits as the drop-out rate on courses is low and a high proportion of students complete their degree.) ACO*HUM might be instrumental in developing a network for distributing teaching materials such as digitised images and texts (via the Internet or on CD-ROM) and in advising local academics on how these materials might be used in distance learning situations. The work group might best achieve this aim by supporting a pilot project - e.g. a course on background information e.g. Biblical, mythological and literary sources.