Tomorrow's gadgets

From next Wednesday to July 2, London has an event to rival the Dome for interactivity, and one which is also giving away tickets to schoolchildren.

Unlike the Dome, which has given 1 million tickets to schools as a promotion, Tomorrow's World Live 2000 exhibition at Earl's Court 2, is being underwritten by the DfEE. The department has picked up the bill for 43,000 tickets given away to schools by the show's organisers, but is not saying how much this has cost. The initiative has the backing of Education Secretary David Blunkett, who says the event "opens up science, technology, engineering and innovation to all in the most exciting of ways". The engine behind the show is undoubtedly the internet and how it will affect our education and daily lives. As the internet is still in its unreliable, fledgling stage, visitors should plan their day around a mix of internet and non-internet stands. For those with no hands-on experience of surfing the web, Planet Internet is a good place to start. It offers the chance to meet internet brands, learn internet facts, surf with guides on hand and help build websites. For old hands at cybersurfing, BBC Tomorrow's World is featuring the most famous of James Bond's gadgets as seen in 007 films. It also has the latest technology from Samsung and Adidas that will feature in this year's Olympics and a Making Music event offering budding DJs, mixers and sound engineers a chance to try their hand at a spin on the decks.

The DfEE has several events including a walk-through exhibit of how secondary school students of today view our future. For students wanting careers advice, Springboard Directions 2000 is designed for 16 to 19-year-olds. There will be representatives at the show from more than 150 universities, colleges and further education institutions, employers, professional bodies and gap year organisations. And given the profile of companies across the wider exhibition, they are just one step away from some of the fastest growing, technology companies in the world. Tickets: 0870 739 9333. For further details about the event:

There i enormous interest in the latest unmetered access offers from internet service providers. Several ISPs are offering to connect you to the internet for no charge - this means no monthly subscription and no local telephone call charges when you connect.

While schools will prefer to pay for a guaranteed supply, teachers using the internet for work at home may want to change from their current ISP.

What are the pros and cons? On the plus side, for heavy users of the internet, the offer of no telephone charges is worth hundreds of pounds a quarter whether you surf at peak or low rate call times. The software that comes with a new ISP is also likely to be less onerous in terms of overwriting your existing settings and e-mail addresses than you may have experienced in the past.

The downside is managing to sign up with any of the ISPs offering unmetered access. All have been flooded with customers and have a backlog of months of registered applicants waiting to take up offers. Applying now is not too different from buying a lottery ticket - it might be you, one day, who gets called up for unmetered use.

Teachers should check the small print too. Unmetered access may be a promotion linked to transferring your telecoms business to another provider. Those most likely to be able to sustain unmetered access are the likes of ntl which owns its own telecoms network. For the latest details on who is offering what, go to:

Next week sees a new addition to the Government's standards website. Aimed at involving parents in their children's education, the site - at - aims to gives guidance to teachers on home-school agreements, and suggestions for others ways of involving parents more closely in schools. It follows the launch late last year of the DfEE's website dedicated to parents at In September, the department will produce parents' guides to the national curriculum, which will explain what children learn at each key stage, and give hints and tips on how parents can help their children learn.

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