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Scottish schools to get e-learning network

Schools across Scotland are to be given access to a dedicated learning network that will allow pupils to take lessons online, collaborate on projects and send and receive e-mail via a secure intranet.

The £37.5m network, dubbed Glow, will be rolled out to up to 2,900 schools and 800,000 teachers and pupils from September, following pilots in individual schools.

It will enable teachers to offer online lessons that pupils can follow as a class or individually, as well as sharing resources with other schools and classes.

Parents will be able to use the system to monitor the performance of their children at school, said Billy McNeil, development director at education software specialist RM, which developed the system.

"Pupils will have a safe and secure environment where they can learn, and teachers should find it far easier to collaborate and to reuse their teaching resources."

Under a five-year contract, local authorities will have responsibility for rolling out the service to schools in their region. Ten authorities have formally signed up to the project, and others are in the process of doing so, said RM.

They will be responsible managing access rights and passwords for schools, teachers and pupils in their region using a secure web portal hosted by Scottish supplier Seemis.

RM has completed trials with schools to develop a password policy that allows children to create passwords that are simple enough to remember but which still offer effective security.

RM said the biggest technical challenge had been to provide single sign-on access to a large number of applications based on Linux, Sun Solaris and Windows.

"We chose Oracle Core-ID, but we have really pushed the boundaries of its capability," said McNeil.

The project is due to go through a final pilot of its e-learning capabilities at the end of the month.

Highland schools get £70m learning network>>

Councils drive e-learning programme >>

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