Monthly Archives: May 2010

Becta an early casualty of cuts

So Becta is to be one of the first victims of the cuts. Last year I wrote that the Tories were interested in boxes and wires and the Labour Party in the uses of technology. How wrong I was! The Conservatives seem technophobic and are set to cut all spending on IT and not just in education.Some of the key figures in the world of ICT and education such as Professor Stephen Heppell believe that there is a groundswell of informed opinion that will inspire and sustain educators at the is difficult time. ‘Many wise and helpful bloggers and podders and tweeters are already providing a mass of inspiration and effective practice for others.’ I am not so sure. If money is not the driving force, teachers will find other things to do with their time rather than keep up to date with technology developments and new software opportunities.

The last government was behind the Home Access Project, a wonderful way of providing access to the internet and e-government for the poorest families.. My article about the demise of the Home Access Project and the impact on young people with severe disabilities can be accessed from Merlin John Online

If push comes to shove, I think there are 3 key things the government needs to preserve
• e-safety – keeping children safe online and reducing the power of the predators to get at vulnerable young people
• narrowing the digital divide – making sure that the smooth faced boys from Eton aren’t the only ones with E-power
• making a commitment that ICT for children with disabilities is the number one priority

If we lose any one of these, then it is back to the dark ages.

New kit on the block

The Fizzbook in action

Fizzbook Spin sounds like a variation on a drinking game but in fact it is a handy piece of technology which is likely to be found in a school near you any time now.

The new 10.1” Fizzbook Spin classmate PC from Zoostorm computers has many great features: it is a netbook with a touch screen and has an inbuilt webcam. 2 USB ports, an SD card slot and Wi-Fi. The touch screen can be used with finger or stylus so will be good for children with dyspraxia or who have poor fine motor skills. It is not a super expensive ruggedized model but will take a good few knocks and has a reasonably waterproof keyboard.

The best features are that the screen flips round so children can easily show off their work to others.  It also has a decent size screen, will last the whole school day without needing to recharge its batteries and has a built-in camera and microphone to make it easy for children to create their own multimedia. It also has Office 7 and software which will turn handwriting into text and help pupils with their note taking.

The teacher can keep an eye on what pupils are getting up to, thanks to SMART Classroom Suite. This has SMART Sync 2009– so teachers can beam content to computers and SMART Response, a voting and response system which records pupils’ answers so teachers can identify children who need help.

Fizzbook Spin is just the sort of machine which should be part of the Home Access Project. Hopefully it will soon be a regular feature in UK classrooms.