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Robertson announces task force for IT in schools

The Scottish Office is setting up a task force to keep schools up to date with the latest developments in educational technology.

The team, to be headed by Stuart Robertson, a senior HMI, was announced on Wednesday by Raymond Robertson, the Education Minister, when he opened the two-day "Wired World" conference and exhibition in Edinburgh run by the Scottish Council for Educational Technology.

Mr Robertson said: "This new technology is here and it is improving fast. Its effects are inescapable. We need to ensure pupils and teachers can use it and, more important, understand how it can best be used. We need to know how the new technology can best be integrated into normal classroom practice and we need to monitor the beneficial changes it has."

Mr Robertson also revealed another Government initiative, to be unveiled on December 3, to help the "digitally dispossessed" who are aged 25 to 65 and have little computer experience.

Two Scottish projects are currently being evaluated as part of the UK Superhighways initiative: modern communications for teaching and learning in Argyll, and "superhighways teams across rural schools".

There has been a threefold increase in the number of computers in Scottish primary schools and a fourfold increase in secondaries over the past seven years.

Nigel Paine, the SCET's chief executive, commented: "There are enormous opportunities for informal learning through CD and the Internet. What we have to make sure is what is informal can be bridged into formal learning should the opportunity arise or the desire arise in company, in school, at home."

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