Across the country there are hundreds of projects coming under
the heading of "e-learning", ranging from infrastructure projects to
online content delivery.
The two presentations here concentrated on
ICT learning centres
the innovative developments in Nottingham, which include
broadband wiring up of social housing, providing laptops for all children in the
local authority area and online collaboration between teachers and students.
ICT learning Centres - the story so far
The government has been providing money for the development of ICT
learning centres in some of the most socially disadvantaged areas of the
country. But how effective are they? Jeremy Wyatt of economic development
consultants Hall Aitken
presented the results of the evaluation of the first wave of implementations in
the 3 year £252 million project.
Amongst the findings are that:
the learning centres are highly valued by users
in general, they have been successful in attracting users from
intended socially excluded target groups
users, however, are predominantly women: it has proved much
harder to attract men, younger men in particular
men and women use the centre in different ways: women are
significantly more likely to undertake programmed courses, while men are more
likely to pursue a particular interest
the ambience and interaction in the centres is particularly
effective in helping develop new skills amongst users who did not thrive at
In the process of the evaluation a great deal of insight has
been gained into good practice - what works in terms of management, technology,
marketing, programming and sustainability. There were many links here with the
advice in the Planning Exchange's Good Practice guide.
Many of the workshop participants were involved in similar
projects, or were about to be - a great deal of government money is coming into
this field to promote the government's vision of a wired future. One of the key
issues raised here is that of the sustainability of projects beyond the initial
funding period - a key issue that central and local government need to address
if they are to capitalise on the value of completed projects.
For further details contact Jeremy
e-Learning in Nottingham
Nottingham City has been gaining a justified reputation as
pioneers of ICT in education. Malcolm Edmonds, ICT Consultant at Nottingham
City LEA outlined how their innovative strategy emerged from the situation in
In terms of the "digital divide", Nottingham found
itself firmly on the wrong side of the tracks. To a large extent this was born
out of the wider circumstances of social exclusion. Figures such as 50% of
adults not paying income tax, and 48% of children on free school meals, are
sharp indicators of disadvantage in the city.
Yet Nottingham has been successful in attracting high-tech
inward investment. The problem has been, however, that local people are not
being recruited by high-tech firms: recruits commute in from the surrounding
area and further afield in the Midlands.
So the development of e-learning in Nottingham has been a
focused response to particular problems.
The main strands of e-learning development are:
making a laptop available to every teacher and every student
creating the broadband infrastructure for "Anywhere,
wiring up all libraries, community centres and council houses by
incorporating use of technology into teaching and learning using
the services and software of
creating an e-learning foundation to support all individuals and
groups who want to acquire a computer, and to promote awareness in business and
What impressed delegates most, perhaps, was the way in which
Nottingham had pressed ahead and implemented many of the measures. Most
ambitious perhaps are the laptop provision and wiring up of homes.
A very robust laptop is available to each child at school with
the Education Authority buying a managed service from Ergo Computing. Parents
can then lease laptops for use at home, at very favorable rates, discounted for
people on low incomes.
The wiring up of all council homes is one of the first such
projects in the country, and is being carried out in partnership with cable
provider ntl. It is planned to make extensive use of interactive TV, with people
having access via their TV to learning opportunities and online council
With the support of Digitalbrain ICT is being integrated into
the curriculum and into teaching practices. Features include:
online resources tailored to the individual, with 25mb storage
professional development materials including online workshops
online monitoring and assessment systems
online management and reporting systems
conference sites with "e-friends" for pupils
access to the system from anywhere: home, school, learning
There was definitely a "wow" factor to this
presentation. Now delegates face the challenge of "go and do
likewise"! There are many lessons to learn from Nottingham's experience.
For further details, contact Malcolm