Headlines: May 13th, 2004

An increasing number of schools across the UK are gaining high speed access to local learning grids and to the Internet. Upgrading to broadband brings benefits to dedicated ICT classes and across the wider curriculum. These include streaming video, music and image-rich sites that come to life quickly for the children, allowing access to educational websites and content that may have previously been unavailable. In addition, aspects of the curriculum can be published online and accessed at home with ease by students, teachers and parents.A major benefit is video-conferencing which is becoming increasingly popular within the education sector, allowing face-to-face communication with schools and colleges across the UK and abroad. At St Luke’s school in Hertfordshire pupils regularly hold sessions with other schools, and the facility allows direct contact with external institutions such as the Cabinet War Rooms and National Portrait Gallery. John Warwick, deputy head at St Luke’s, comments: “Video-conferencing has been highly motivating both for pupils and staff. The children find the technology fascinating and really engage in the experience. A significant number of our pupils lack confidence in communicating, and this facility has made an enormous contribution to their language skills.

The school is planning to use video-conferencing to enable other schools to observe its lessons remotely. Discussions are also underway to develop a programme to provide remote lesson observations for newly qualified teachers as part of the LEA’s in service training programme. It is also exploring the possibility of developing its international links through a British Council project, which will enable pupils to communicate, via video-conferencing, with schools in Spain, Germany, Norway, Italy.

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