By Jack Kenny

Cover New ToolsNew Tools: now an ebookI always turn to the end of a review to read the conclusion first. I will save you the trouble: this book is very good and is well worth acquiring. Now I'll tell you why.

ICT has been around in our schools for a quarter of a century; in the outside world it has changed our lives.  Every child now in school has only known an ICT-rich world. How strange to them many schools where ICT is peripheral must seem. A task for everyone is to make the world of school seem less strange to children and, consequently,  a better place for learning.

By Dave Smith
Teach-It screenTeach-It: inspirational supportAs more teachers discover free Web 2.0 tools like blogging, podcasting and Google Earth and want to use them in the classroom, advice and support becomes invaluable. And an innovative Scottish company, Do Be Ltd ("Do It - Be It"), has come up with Teach-It, a new service that is accelerating the acceptance of these technologies by teachers.

Within minutes of meeting Louise McDonough and Stephen Reid from parent company Do Be – which already has 700 schools on its books – and seeing their support materials I was thinking: “These are great. They have got real potential. When can we start?”

By Alan Mills
John FoxwellEMAS UK's John Foxwell: delightedLike their colleagues across the UK, South Wales teachers need to communicate and support new students when they first arrive in the UK. The new arrivals often have very limited or no English language skills. This often leaves local authorities and schools having to use the translation services that can cost as much as £20 an hour, for a minimum of three hours.

However, because Cardiff schools have signed up with the Talking Tutor online translation service from EMAS UK, staff can communicate with almost any new student and their family as soon as they step through the door. They can type in questions in English and the on-screen avatar asks them in any of the 24 languages supported. Teachers can talk to learners, learners to their friends, and it's moving to mobile phones too.

Lee WidraLee Widra: 'the learning space is what matters'Designing learning spaces is one of the fastest moving areas in education. From the realisation that it's the learning spaces that effect learners' experiences and achievements rather than the shells of the building, through companies like RM repositioning furniture, fittings, resources and ICT to  model learning spaces, schools can now model their own virtual learning spaces – in 3D and to perfect scale.

Partnerships for Schools' "Future Learning Spaces" area at the BETT 2010 educational technology show, featured a small stand with big implications for anyone involved in capital build projects like Building Schools for the Future. ‘Design Your School’ is web-based software to involve stakeholders in any BSF, new-build or refurbishment project, in creating, modelling and signing off their learning spaces.

NetTrekkerNetTrekker: another attempt at a walled garden?By Jack Kenny
Few things are more important than teaching students how to deal with the oceans of information that surround them. So far there hasn't been much success. Information skills should be a top priority, so any attempt to help deserves serious consideration.

NetTrekker is a US-based company allied with Atomic Learning. Its aim is to sell subscriptions to a "safe" search engine that will only produce "the right results". In other words, to reduce the ocean of information to a pond. Some will find that proposition attractive – after all, the Internet can be a university, a swamp, a maze, a hall of mirrors or a sleazy back street. Some way of helping students to deal with that is necessary but should it be a walled garden?

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