Schools are to get free access to online versions of the Encyclopaedia Britannica and World Book as part of an e-learning initiative.

The initiative was announced today by Minister for Education Batt O'Keeffe.

The online encyclopedias use text, video clips, three-dimensional simulations, research aids and other new media in presenting information to students.

The Department is to pay an annual licence fee of €450,000 to Britannica and World Book to authorise schools to use the online resources.

The Minister said the move demonstrated the Government's commitment to providing digital reference content to teachers and students in a way that encourages learning through technology.