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A contributor’s review of BETT ’99


The following review of the national educational technology show held earlier this year has been contributed by Sonia Longmore who present a teacher's overview of some current technology developments affecting education and training:

ICT and The National Grid for Learning:-

Information and Communication Technology

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in education aims to raise the educational standards through development of software packages using multimedia in conjunction with the National Grid for Learning (NGfL). If incorporated into the National Curriculum, which the government agency BECTA support, then the funding for schools and colleges to become critical purchases will promote the use of Microsoft packages, for example, in educational technology.

National Grid for Learning

The National Grid for Learning is an architecture of educationally valuable content on the Internet, and an initiative to support the equipping and networking of schools, public libraries, colleges and other institutions. NGfL is the Learning Challenge by the Government, which underpins a programme of over £1 billion to support the delivery of the Government's targets for ICT in education and lifelong learning for 2002.

National Lottery Fund

Funding by the National Lottery from 1999 of £230m will be available to train serving teachers in the UK in the curriculum use of ICT in the classroom, and to train school librarians, etc. Statistical surveys will assess annually the schools' and other users' progress towards the national targets for ICT, but more importantly, monitoring and recording on the Grid itself the number of registered users and the extent of its use. The Grid will provide feedback. It will provide on-line facilities for learners as good as those anywhere in the world.

University for Industry and Public Library Network lifelong learning

The prospectus for the University for Industry has set out the Government's aim for a major new resource to underpin learning beyond school. It sets out the Government's Green Paper on lifelong learning. The Public Library Network is to support the whole of learning, from schooling, through employment and leisure, to retirement.

Teacher Training Agency and New Opportunities Fund

Teacher Training Agency (TTA) prepared and published the ICT training standard for trainee teachers; and is responsible for New Opportunities Fund. Community Grids for Learning will link education, library, leisure and other services at local, metropolitan or regional level. Managers of learning institutions, advisers, school governors, teachers, lecturers, librarians, museum and gallery staff as well as administrators can benefit from the Grid in delivering and promoting learning with new opportunities.


Technical developments are now entering a new era. Digital television services have been launched, and devices such as Digital Versatile Disc (DVD), bringing together the functions of CD audio, full screen video and multimedia CD-ROM, are increasingly available and affordable. Along with growth of the Internet, they bring both opportunities and challenges for education and learning.


Medium speed connections (ISDN2) is a key issue of connection and the Government are using such connections as a realistic baseline for such links for the time being recognising that institutions such as schools and libraries will wish to have a choice of speed of connections depending on the size of their networks and the functions they wish to perform.

The telecommunications industry and Oftel will be used by the Government in terms of affordability for education and learning institutions over the next five years to increase the availability of fast speed connections for schools and other institutions. Fast speed access for learners will take careful account of the emerging bandwidth needs of particular categories of user, and developments such as the ability of satellites to transmit large amounts of data tailored to institutions' requirements.

Equipping and Local Networking

The Technology Colleges Trust, Supergrid for Learning - has pioneered a broadband wide area network linking Trust schools to a central bank of servers in Wakefield accessed through a purpose-designed web site. This provides a 2 Mbps connection for a fixed annual cost and acts as the subscribing schools' Internet Service Provider (ISP). The broader bandwidth that the service provides to schools enables a large number of learners to use the system at the same time and the use of facilities such as full-screen real-time video that modems or ISDN are unable to handle. The use of broadband also considerably enhances the potential and dramatically reduces the cost of video-conferencing. will use this broadband connectivity to enhance the delivery of the curriculum, development of new approaches to integrating ICT and joint development and licensing of software and other interactive curriculum activities. Further projections are hoped from the Trust, by linking teachers' and students' homes, local and feeder schools and the wider community.

Preparing for the Information Age

A report on emerging technologies and network capabilities by the UK Education Departments, impact on education and learning, the pedagogical implications and in what circumstances the use of new technologies results in improved attainment, before innovations are widely adopted.

Publications are available in the library areas of the following websites: -

Virtual Teachers Centre on

Further Education is available through the FE Resources for Learning web site -

'Connecting Schools, Networking People' - published by BECTA and available from

'IT for All' Project Office 0171 215 1327 or email on

'Guidance on Application for the Approval of NGfL Managed Services'
Tel.: 0845 60 222 60
Fax: 0845 60 333 60

Teacher Training Agency 925 3700

Department for Education and Employment 273 4985 (Superhighways & Multimedia Unit)

Department of Trade and Industry 215 1327 (IT for All Project Office)
Department of Culture, Media and Sport 211 6200


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