By John Galloway

Dave CllifDave Cliff: keynoteDo you prefer your learning "layered," "braided," "deep" or "mobile?" Not sure of the difference? Then you should have been at CAL 09: Learning in Digital Worlds, the conference for all those interested in ICT in education held in Brighton this week (March 23-25) where these, and research into many other topical themes, were explored.

While the event was dominated by academics and researchers, a sprinkling of teachers turned up to help maintain the links to the classroom. The conference covers research into just about every aspect of the use of ICT in all spheres of education.

Angela McFarlaneAngela McFarlane: 'forget romaticism'Techno-romanticism – you know, “just give the kids this technology and they fly”, and the “digital natives” mythology – was given a terminal diagnosis at Partnerships for Schools' Building Schools for the Future:ICT event at the Royal College of Surgeons in London.

“There is very little evidence to support that view,” said keynote speaker Angela McFarlane, Professor of Education at the University of Bristol.  “Actually many children struggle to use technology effectively, and even when they think they are using it effectively they are not.  And many children struggle, more importantly, to know how to learn effectively.

NDRB logoThe elusive promise of a wealth of digital resources available for free use by learners and teachers throughout the UK is finally about to be realised. The National Digital Resource Bank (NDRB), run by the North West Learning Grid and supported by open source specialist company Sirius, will start by making available £30 million worth of resources (expected to double year on year).

The radical project has been brought about by collaboration between around 120 local authorities, 9 out of 10 broadband consortia, national network organisation Janet and the final piece of the jigsaw, Spanish secretary of state Francisco Ros releasing the source code and documentation for Agrega, Spain’s own digital repository for learning – a major breakthrough for open source.

Nolan Bushnell'Change the world': Nolan BushnellNolan Bushnell (left), founder of Atari and a world authority on computer gaming, presented an epitaph for the classroom when he opened the two-day Game Based Learning 2009 Conference in London yesterday (March 19). "The classroom died as a concept 12 years ago," he said. "There are so many things wrong with the classroom that, unless we evolve to the next plateau, we will never fix education in a real way.

"Second, teaching has to fundamentally evolve into a mentoring one-on-one relationship rather than one-to-many. Third, the virtual classroom, the virtual tools that everybody deals with, have to be part of any curriculum."

Stephen Lucey, executive director for strategic technologies with Government ICT agency Becta this week welcomed the Government's shift in policy on open source technology for the public sector and revealed that it has the potential to save schools between a fifth and a half of their ICT procurement costs.

“We’re pleased to see open source getting the recognition it deserves as a viable alternative to vendor software having championed open source and open standards to the Government 12 months ago with our review of the use of Microsoft’s Vista and Office 2007 products within the education sector," he said.