Could you imagine a secondary school running all its email, shared documents and a virtual learning environment (VLE) holding a substantial part of its curriculum online - for school and home use - for a monthly cost of just £6 for the web space? That's exactly what's happening at Cottenham Village College near Cambridge, where Google and Moodle have helped propel learners, teachers and parents towards 21st century learning.

Peter Marshall and Dan LeightonPeter Marshall and Dan LeightonCould a free Google service handle all a school's communications and office software needs? The answer appears to be yes, and very well too. And, after hearing about the experience of Cottenham Village College near Cambridge, other schools are likely to follow suit. The savings could be massive.

Hugh John gets creative with Painter Essentials 4 and ArtRage Plus

Jerry Stinson, PainterDaunted by the price of high-end graphics tools? Don’t despair, there are still some inexpensive programs available and the good news is that their price bears little comparison to their performance (Painter artwork by Jerry Stinson, left and below). Two of the most impressive ‘natural media’ programs are ArtRage Plus and Painter Essentials 4 (From Corel, at BETT 2009), both of which can be bought for less than £50 (you can download a free version of ArtRage).

Government ICT agency Becta appears to be moving towards burying the hatchet to end its two-year stand-off with US software giant Microsoft. It started when Becta discouraged schools from adopting the Vista operating system and the Office 2007 productivity package, and complained to the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) about alleged interoperability of document files and unfair school licensing agreements.