A VIRTUAL enterprise project undertaken by TAFE students in Taree has the potential to expand into the real world and link local businesses with an international market.
NSW/ACT Virtual Enterprise Australia coordinator and teacher at the North Coast Institute of TAFE in Taree Deb Kelly said it is "one of the most exciting things I've done in a long time".
Last year, Taree TAFE started the project with a pretend business run by the students in an "office" from Taree.
This year they were involved in an international virtual enterprise trade fair involving students from across the globe.
It's step forward from the traditional trade fair that TAFE has run on campus each year.
However not everyone can always attend and by embracing the way that technology has changed, it has been designed to allow people to work from home.
"It provides the opportunity for students to still be engaged in a trade fair while sitting at home."
She said, at the time of the virtual trade fair, there were people from the United States taking part who would have been at home as it was very late in the night.
Taree TAFE had three students of Certificate III in Business Administration solidly involved this year, and everyone linked up had their own boardroom avatar.
Participating in the virtual trade fair has been an integrated, hands-on, learning experience for the students, who will gain five or six units from it.
"They have been so diligent, even working weekends," said Deb.
It gives them a chance to explore business and learn about trade and dealing with "real" situations in a virtual context.
"The students behind the avatars are doing real stuff.
"They meet and greet people, explain to the visitors exactly what they're doing, exude confidence and need to be front and centre."
Once the National Broadband Network comes into the local area she said they can look at building on the program.
"At the moment we are limited to access on computers."
One of her dreams is to see virtual enterprising provide opportunities for people with disabilities and at a disadvantage to be involved.
She said there is also a chance to pull together business and community and they are looking for sponsorship to take it further with the hope to link it directly to business.
"There's a potential for real businesses to get involved and to beam into the international world."