Many visitors to the lCT in Practice Awards ceremony at the BETT educational technology show at Olympia, London, in January were astonished by the achievements of this year's winners. If they had gone the previous year they wouldn't have been. These awards, organised by the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (Becta) and supported by The TES, Pearson and BT, are uncovering excellent practice in lCT, ranging from straightforward curriculum technology to the kind of profound special needs work that changes lives and shows inclusion is not just a tick-box on a politically correct checklist.
In this special issue, TES Online is proud to share with you the achievements of the winners, but don't think we are ignoring the runners-up. Every teacher named in the 2003 awards will be featured in both TES Online and our sister magazine TES Teacher.
Find out more (and nominate for 2004) at www.becta.org.ukpracticeawards Despite the historic under-funding of schools, massive inroads have been made by the Government's National Grid for Learning and the welcome influx of hardware and software into schools. Now the challenge is to stock this national interactive library-cum-laboratory with first-class digital materials. This is where Curriculum Online comes in.
Introduced at the end of last year the project has had problems in its conception and implementation, not least of which has been getting the message over to schools and teachers. The good news is this - you have pound;330 million to spend on digital materials over the next three years.
Turn to our feature on pages 21-23 to find out more.
It's not just the hardware and software that make a difference to learning but the educational practice - hence the importance of the Becta awards.
But still, watch out for the Tablet PC. The emergence of these "interactive clipboards" is genuinely exciting. This column was handwritten (easily) on the first machine to appear for education and the cheapest (at pound;800), the RM Tablet PC - and the experience was a revelation. It even exploits fingerprint security technology (p24).
While this issue of Online previews a couple of new models from industry leaders (p27), our next issue (May 9) will be looking at the really interesting stuff - what is being done with them by pupils and teachers in UK classrooms. And what are the implications for whiteboard use.
Don't underestimate the importance of mobile computing. The latest government report suggests that it could be an effective bridge over the digital divide (news p4-5, Hands on p28).
To create space for our awards coverage, several regular Online features, such as the Spam column and the Bigger Picture focus on research, have had to be held over to our next issue. Apologies to all concerned.