Class of year 2000

DO YOU need help with your child's homework? Hook him/her on to the net. www.classontheweb.com provides online help with homework. True, it can never replace the teacher or an actual classroom, but the `vortal' (vertical portal) goes deep enough to supplement what is taught in class.

What is more, it does have a Principal for the web classes, just to keep a watch on the ``cyberclass''!

The site advises that it is better that you keep your text-books along when at it on the net. There are about 8000 animated lessons that the site offers in science and mathematics - how does the human heart send blood pumping through the body, how does the internal combustion engine work and the like, all explained with animation.

But first, you need to register - as a parent or a student. ``We realised that a lot of parents have the need to help their children with the homework. And the site helps them by clearing their doubts,'' Ms.Jayanthi Ravi, Principal of Classontheweb says.

There are about 30,000 registered users who have signed up for coaching on the web. ``But it would take us a while before we start clearing doubts instantly,'' the Principal admits.

However, the site does promise to clear all online queries in 24 hours through the `Online Tutor' service. Apart from academic queries, students can also post questions to `Q-rious' about things that they have always wanted to understand. Then, there's the `Inkpot' to which students interested in writing, can contribute and win prizes.

The counsellor on the web lends a patient ear to any personal problem a student might face and suggests solutions. The other general features include news, chat room, discussion forums and polls.

All these features intend to make the `vortal' build a community of students, teachers and parents. And the registration is free.

How long? ``We do intend keeping it free for a long while and maybe forever,'' Ms.Jayanthi says.

Online study is poised to expand, when connection speeds improve and cost of access gets reduced. Experts say a small payment and study material that can be downloaded and used offline will boost the prospects of these education sites.

But with other education related sites like egurucool.com, entranceguru.com, esaras.com, it really would be a while before education on the net would come with a price-tag. Good news?

By Sudhish Kamath