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?

2Simple cake2Sponsor is innovative tooThe annual BETT show, at Olympia, London, is the biggest and most successful exhibition of technology and learning in the world, with 30,000 visitors in 2009. But it's a trade show, and with commerce the main shaper of its future, the technology has tended to outweigh the learning.

The good news is that features like Stephen Heppell's Playful Learning keep learning at its heart, and at BETT 2010 this week  there will be an unprecedented level of teacher involvement, with teacher events on three nights in succession in Olympia's biggest seminar space, the Apex Room: Wednesday, TEDx Orenda; Thursday, AmplifiED; Friday BETT TeachMeet 2010. And TeachMeet will be spilling out on to the exhibition floor with teachers going on to commercial stands to show the free online tools they use with their learners. Welcome to TeachMeet Takeover.

Martin LittlerMartin LittlerSchools minister Vernon Coaker MP might not be well known to those involved in ICT for learning but he has picked his BETT appearances deftly. One will be at the launch party of the British Assistive Technologies Association (BATA). It's an historic moment for this community and here founding chair Martin Littler explains why:

"Children and adults who need assistive technology to live and learn must not lose out in the thin times ahead. Through ignorance, their needs were frequently ignored when there was money! Previously there was nobody to speak up for those who needed technology to give them an even break but now there is.

Bett netbookBETT: stay focused on the learningEducation has seen massive growth in interest in netbooks over the past 12 months and hundreds of UK schools have started using them to replace desktop PCs. Many see the potential for devices for all students and have started rolling out netbooks to year groups. Are netbooks evolving into standard student devices?

As those in charge of school purse strings head for BETT 2010, Mike Herrity, assistant headteacher of Twynham School, Christchurch, considers the pitfalls and challenges of netbook purchase faced by his own school and others across the UK.

Should ICT austerity lessen the quality of learning and teaching? No, says London adviser Dave Smith.

Dave SmithDave Smith: 'show total cost of ownership'With the spectre of public spending cuts on the minds of teachers, heads and advisers visiting BETT 2010, how can they anticipate and counter the effects of future cuts in ICT expenditure? What would happen should the Chancellor of the Exchequer suddenly demand immediate 5, 10 or even 15 per cent cuts in school budgets? If you are working in a school, or offering advice - are you ready to decide what needs to stay and what needs to go?

By following a few proactive tips you may be able to protect the things that teachers, teaching assistants and pupils find the most valuable, and lessen the impact on pupils' learning experiences.