FErret

26th August 2011 at 01:00

Nowhere to hide

FErret has had all-too-frequent recourse to the "Find My iPhone" feature after a night of one too many shandies, but it has never before occurred to him that similar location-tracking properties should be built into FE lecturers.

That's what is happening at Wiltshire College, however, as it tries out a system where staff are kitted out with pound;100 GPS trackers.

This sort of spy technology tends to encourage paranoia, as if there's some sort of futuristic Minority Report-style of remote lesson observation in the works. But the college's explanation sounds innocent enough: with staff sometimes working alone in isolated learning centres, the devices can send an SOS message with the lecturers' location.

Of course, in the absence of an actual kidnap attempt, which is pretty unheard of, the location is always going to be "in the learning centre". But perhaps it might help with rounding everyone up the morning after the Christmas party.

How low can you go?

Following the Really Free School, a learning centre set up by squatters in London, a group of Oxford graduates have taken up the baton.

They have taken over a disused factory and are planning to hold workshops, debates and even host a library. "It had been empty for about a year and we thought the space could be used for something more positive," said Tom White, a maths and physics graduate.

So what have they decided to call this seat of learning? Pleb's College.

Presumably it is meant as an ironic comparison between the squat and the dreaming spires around. But when Ruskin College students set up the Plebs' League to fight for working-class education, they were the plebs: their founder was a miner. Coming from a couple of Oxford graduates, it just seems insulting.

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