Students in rural Wales are being given portable multimedia computers under an innovative new scheme to take courses into the countryside, writes Ben Russell.
Staff at Coleg Powys in North Wales have bought 10 laptop computers to lend to students in rural areas cut off from the college.
The pilot project, being funding by the Fforwm of Welsh Colleges and the Further Education Development Agency, is designed to help people study and cut down the need to travel to a college which is time-consuming and expensive. The project is one of a series being piloted in the principality to develop the use of high technology teaching methods.
Fforwm chief executive Dr Mike Jones said: "By concentrating the resources of the further education sector on a number of colleges we are able to test various approaches and highlight examples of good practice."
A TES survey of open and distance learning published this week highlighted weaknesses in college's use of high technology and pointed to the Welsh scheme as an important guide to the future (see page 25 opposite).
Other ideas being developed under the scheme include work with the Internet and CD-roms to encourage self-motivated study, as well as bilingual computer programmes for Welsh speakers.
Welsh colleges are also working on a database of computer teaching aids shared across the principality.