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Thinking minister;Jotter

There was a first for Scottish education last week - a conference heavily reliant on technology which actually worked. Even more amazingly, someone knew how to make it work.

If Deputy Education Minister Peter Peacock had been able to stay on (page six), he might even have been able to lend a hand himself. For he must be the first computer-literate minister to have hit the Scottish Office, if you exclude Brian Wilson's expertise with pager and mobile phone.

Peacock revealed he was not just a user of technology - stunning his audience with a reference to "bauds" at one stage - but once wrote distance learning materials. He even shows a disturbing tendency to think for himself. Whatever will the civil servants do?

The minister was not the only enthusiast around at the conference. The Royal Bank of Scotland sent along Greg Aitken from its human resources department who spoke breathlessly about every branch being plugged into a central training nerve centre that includes its very own television service, RBTV.

Aitken is also placing his expertise at the service of the National Grid for Learning. "He's a real evangelist," said one conference participant - before adding: "I realise that's not a word to use about banking circles these days."

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