Inanimate AliceBy Alan Mills

Inanimate Alice’s combination of exciting visuals and compelling music had me intrigued from episode one. And I am not alone. Since its inception four years ago more than a million viewers have followed Alice’s adventures through this multi-award winning interactive online series which has been applauded as one of the most exciting and cutting-edge interactive graphic novels.

It is a dark and moody tale which begins when Alice is 8, told over 10 increasingly interactive episodes through a combination of narrative, photography, illustrations, video, music and animation. It's perfect for aiding creativity in the classroom by assisting story telling and literacy, and it's free.

Primary schools in Sheffield are among the first in the UK to pilot Gmail - Google's free "anywhere anytime" email service. They are using it as an integrated part of their Studywiz learning platform.

"The vast majority of Sheffield primary schools are already using Studywiz and Gmail," says Andrew Bush, senior ICT consultant with Sheffield City Council. “This development will bring  seamless integration of two key internet technologies, giving teachers personalised access to their communications and resources. It is a very exciting step in the development of e-learning for students in Sheffield schools.”

Paul HinesPaul Hines: 'simplified version'One of the unsung secrets of TrueTube, the BETT 2009 Award-winning online video-sharing service for young people, is its innovative video-editing suite. Learners in or out of school get free online access to powerful editing facilities that will work with even low-powered computers on a broadband connection.

They can upload their own footage or use the wealth of clips and copyright-free music already on the site - and best of all for schools, this happens in a secure environment.

Angela McFarlaneAngela McFarlane with treasure chestThe Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (RBG Kew) has launched a £2 million national science project - The Great Plant Hunt - for primary schools to mark the the 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birth (February 12).

Sponsored by the Wellcome Trust, it’s being run through a new Plant Hunt website where schools can register to take part. Kew describes it as a recruitment campaign to find Darwin’s successor. Its director of content and learning, Professor Angela McFarlane, says: “We are facing a general skills shortage in science in the UK and nowhere is that more acute than in botany.

Microsoft has created an offer for the Government’s Home Access programme to bridge the "digital divide" between home and school. The Microsoft Home Learning Package is comprised of the "Ultimate" edition of Office 2007 – Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, Publisher, Windows Live Essentials, plus online features like Photosynth, SkyDrive (storage), Virtual Earth and Worldwide Telescope.

“We know that when students have access to technology at school as well as at home they are more motivated and their parents are able to take a more active interest in their education," says Steve Beswick, Microsoft’s director of education.