The role of a teacher is changing because of the internet.
Labour education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says technology will fundamentally change the nature of schooling.
"The classroom is no longer a square box with rows of students looking at teachers. That teacher is now increasingly becoming a facilitator of learning, rather than an absolute expert.
"We are still going to have schools and we will still have teachers, in the conventional sense of a teacher, but schools will be more outwardly focused," he said.
Hipkins says e-learning is already in many schools and Google is becoming a popular research tool.
In the past, teachers have delivered information, but are now helping students to filter the information they have at their fingertips, he says.
"The amount of human knowledge now is so much larger than before. No one can expect a teacher to know everything about every subject anymore. They are very much helping children access, interpret and evaluate information."
Isolated rural schools in Taranaki are among the schools that had accessed a wide and varied curriculum online and Hipkins believed that was a healthy trend. "It allows smaller schools to share resources with larger schools and to access information on the internet.
"While doing that the kids are learning the skills they need to be able to filter the information. That's where teachers are playing a really critical role. They are teaching students to be able to spot valid information," he said.
However, online learning did pose some problems, Hipkins said.
"It does create questions around cyber safety. If you've got this big open online learning environment how do you make sure the people who are contributing to it are the right people to be interacting with kids?
"You don't want to shut out people who could potentially offer and give a lot of expertise, but you don't want to open it up so wide that you get people behaving very inappropriately in their interactions," he said.
- © Fairfax NZ News