Wednesday, March 15, 2006

It's a long way to...

...Birmingham. However, it was sunny, which in my experience of the city is remarkable.
Today's event was Becta's Transforming Schools - which was intended to inform our vision for 21st Century Learning. Despite Buckinghamshire not being involved in any wave of the BSF (Building Schools for the Future) programme (except maybe the last one). There were lots of delegates - at events such as this and the Naace conference it's always informative to go through the delegate list and count the number of LA / schools people compared to the number of 'vendors'. The count? Well, obviously not all the listed delegates came, but from the list it was 95 LEA / schools people out of approx 158 on the list. Not bad - there were a few comments at the Naace conference about the lack of a delegate list.
The day consisted of a few keynotes and optional workshops. One of the keynotes was described to me as "a walkthrough of the MS Learning Gateway" - and for me the interesting thing was that, as far as people who've never seen anything better are concerned, the phrase "learning platform" is being replaced by "learning gateway" - either a slip of the tongue or a clever way of Microsoft trying to achieve a similar effect to "hoover" replacing the phrase "vaccum cleaner". It's not the first event where I've heard people talking about a "learning gateway" as if it was a common term. The amounts of money put into some of the ICT Test-Bed schools is staggering. £2.4m into one school? Of course they can afford multiple MS licences. Another LEA delegate speculated that the heads who presented about their Learning Gateway experiences had neglected to mention the cost and licensing issues - which are clearly significant.
The workshops I intended were interesting in parts but didn't show anything remarkable for the amount of investment involved.
The thing that really looked good was the Aqua Browser as part of the Dudley Live2Learn Learning Journey A cross between a mind map / interactive data cloud, a previewable search engine and a catalogue of resources, it's really something to behold - see a different library-based demo here. It would appear that the aim is to make this available to all schools - if so this would be a really useful alternative to Google et al...
In other news, got back from Birmingham to find out that the video interview that I'd done on the Help Us Get To BETT stand ended up being published... here's the overview video and here's the Moodle-specific one.

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