Bob HarrisonToshiba consultant Bob HarrisonA  report from research unit Futurelab and Toshiba warns that unless educationists step up the push for transforming learning, new schools could miss the mark for children in England. “Despite the best efforts of the Government and its agencies there is still a danger we will have 20th century schooling in buildings created for the 21st century,” warns consultant Bob Harrison.

“While there is compelling evidence that improved buildings and spaces can raise achievement, the full benefits of Building Schools for the Future and the Primary Capital Partnership will be lost unless we harness technology to transform learning.” “Transforming Schools for the Future? A collection of provocation papers”, was launched at the Building Schools Exhibition and Conference (BSEC) in Manchester this week, a timely reminder for BSEC visitors that BSF is about transforming learning and teaching, not just buildings.

Pockets of PotentialThe education trust set up by the TV program that set a new benchmark in children’s television – Sesame Street – is backing handheld learning in a big way. A new report from the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop, New York, is calling on the White House to set up an initiative on digital learning to audit current investments and create “a digital investment fund to accelerate education reform and promote mobile innovation to help benefit the economy”.

The report, “Pockets of Potential: Using Mobile Technologies to Promote Children’s Learning”, by Carly Shuler, is unequivocal about the importance of handheld devices for learning. It says that ignoring the potential of iPods, mobile phones and portable gaming platforms for exciting learning will further widen the gap between what children do inside and outside school and, more important, prevent them from getting the educational opportunities and success they “need and deserve”.

Intuitive report

By Maureen McTaggart
When 12-year-old Lauren gets home from school, she says hello to her mum and heads for the computer in the living room to spend an hour on the GoldStarCafe (GSC) online service. She’s into fashion and loves swimming so will check out the latest outfits in the sports shop and maybe design a birthday or barbecue invitation which she will print off for mailing. Later she will have something to eat, play a game or send emails with her Nintendo DS Lite and maybe watch a little TV, then back to the computer to do her homework under the watchful eye of her mum.

“Mum helps me with loads of things. She tells me about not giving personal details out, she will help me download pictures from the digital camera to the computer, or help with searching on Google. A few months ago I had a French test at school, so my mum sat with me and searched the internet for a good French website for kids. She wrote down all the main words and phrases to remember then she tested me on it. I passed my test with flying colours and I think it was all because of her help.”

Lauren and Jack (below) are two of 4,600 children surveyed by Intuitive Media (who run the SuperClubsPLUS and GoldStarCafe protected online communities for 150,000 youngsters aged from 6 to 14) for a report, Learning in the Family – Parental Engagement in Children’s Leaning with Technology, backed by government ICT agency Becta, that looked at parents' roles in supporting children’s learning with ICT.