Schools link up to share content

Broadband connectivity is allowing the region's pupils and teachers to plug into a community of learning schoolchildren in the...

Broadband connectivity is allowing the region's pupils and teachers to plug into a community of learning schoolchildren in the East Midlands are using broadband connectivity to share online content with pupils from other schools and to do their homework, writes Ross Bentley.

The East Midlands Broadband Consortium (EMBC) aims to bring the power of collaborative learning to more than 2,200 schools by the end of this year. Already 1,500 schools in the area can access the Assimilate learning platform.

The consortium's aim is to enable the growing network of schools connected by broadband in the East Midlands to interact and share best practice and educational content, using technologies such as e-mail and videoconferencing.

EMBC's learning platform provides every student and teacher with an online identity, access to material consistent with key stage development, home access, and the ability to create and upload content to the central information repository. But at the same time, it gives the individual school autonomy while offering it the benefits of local education authority and regional resources.

To ensure that the learning environment would interest and be of use to teaching staff and students, the chosen solution had to be intuitive, easy to use and have a clear purpose and real educational benefits.

Because of the scale of the project, a limited number of suppliers could connect and support such a large group of users. EMBC chose Fujitsu Services as its prime contractor and Ramesys as its learning environment partner because of its Assimilate learning platform product. This means:

  • Teachers can create and find content relevant to specific lessons, key stage developments and individuals, while maintaining a standard formula to publish content on the regional information repository
  • Teachers can deliver lessons tailored to students' needs depending on their age, role and location. At the same time the software will enable teachers to develop and share their own content across the whole teaching community
  • Students can access content out of school, from their home PC, the library or anywhere with an internet connection. This is useful for students who want extra time for homework. Students save their work into their personalised area at school, then log onto the EMBC site from home. The completed homework can then be saved on the network and is waiting in their folder at school the next morning.

David Cheetham, EMBC project manager, said, "Our vision is to support schools in the region to adopt information and communications technology more widely and see teachers and learners sharing projects, activities and communications with their counterparts across the region."

The development could also contribute to a best practice teaching resource, he added. "If schools see the value in adopting Assimilate, they will share their best materials and practice so that we will have a database of curriculum-relevant, educational content, creating an invaluable teaching resource."

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