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Technology and the classroom

TEACHERS WHO attend the biennial "Tactics and Trends" conferences of the Scottish Council for Educational Technology are by and large enthusiasts for information technology. They must be alternately excited and depressed by what they see and hear.

On show are machines and applications that herald the brave new world opening up to the young generation. SCET makes sure that the needs of teachers and learners are to the fore. Technology geeks are not allowed to dominate. But in most schools access to the wired world is limited or still some way off. Computers and software are anything but state of the art. The number of teachers at ease with the technology remains few.

The Education Minister acknowledged the limitations. But relying on commitments made by the Prime Minister and the Chancellor, she was able to point to millions of pounds in the pipeline, some of it for training teachers. There are also individual schools (and whole authorities like West Lothian) where promise and reality are beginning to match.

But we are a long way from abandoning the school structure in favour of individualised learning at the home computer, just as no one seriously believes that software will replace books. Reality does not need to go out of the window because we glimpse virtual reality.

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