Henry WarrenHenry Warren

by Maureen McTaggart

Visitors to BETT 2009 in Olympia, London, this week will get a daily opportunity for a world tour of learning with the video-conferencing sessions being run by not-for-profit Web 2.0 service Rafi.ki (Stand F70).

With more than 900 school members in 94 countries collaborating on cross-curricular projects, Rafi.ki has become a spine of secure communication in the global online learning world. Run by UK-based educational charity Gemin-i.org, which has more than 10 years of experience developing ICT tools for schools around the world, Rafi-ki offers a range of communication and collaboration tools including email, chat rooms and forums, as well as audio and video-conferencing.

In the same way as most music sequencing software is for people who can already play music, most word processors are for those who can already read and write.

And while UK education has already produced a generation of worthy word processors, Write Online (£500 for a primary school first-year subscription), from Crick Software, has emerged as a world class word processor for learning. As the title suggests, you can use it online, like Google Docs, or even offline too. And the range of tools, for those learning to write for example, or who have difficulty with writing - like word prediction, Wordbar and speech - are simply unrivalled.

Fiona Aubrey-SmithUniServity's Fiona Aubrey-SmithIf a consensus is emerging from the introduction of learning platforms into UK schools it’s this: the technology will not bring about transformation unless it is wedded to a clear vision for learning. And Fiona Aubrey-Smith, a leading UK advocate of learning platforms, urges teachers to make learners  decision-makers on the personalisation of learning if they want to see transformation of school culture and home learning.

Her views are radical yet simple and direct, and are at the heart of engaging learning. And she will be giving presentations on global learning, social learning and assessment for learning on the UniServity stand at the BETT 2009 educational technology show at Olympia, London, this week.

ICT has made a massive difference to the teaching of maths. Simple spreadsheets have presented teachers and learners with excellent tools with which to explore and develop number relationships and graphing. Primary maths has been covered well by a range of companies like Black Cat and 2Simple (2calculate), but projected images and whiteboard technology have brought instant recognition of the power of the visual element of the subject.

Check out Jeff Galinovsky's YouTube preview (below) of a prototype of the new, "convertible" version of the Intel classmate PC that was being launched as part of the Intel Learning Series at BETT 2009.The Series is an initiative involving Intel, PC manufacturers and software developers in providing localised services for education.

The model previewed by Jeff Galinsky is a rugged laptop that folds over into a Tablet PC with a touchscreen controlled by finger or stylus, and sophisticated enough for learners to write with their palms on-screen (also a feature of the new SMART Boards at BETT - SMART is an Intel partner and co-founder Dave Martin attended the launch). The keyboard is water resistant and it features a webcam that swivels through 180 degrees.