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Frankie Says… broadband should not be a fad

Warning to government

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The UK Government is being warned not to regard broadband as some "fad" - wot, like Deely Boppers and "Frankie Says..." T-shirts? - and is being urged instead to take a longer-term view about the benefits of high-speed Net access.

In particular, boffins at Brunel University reckon that "a cohesive, far-sighted strategy for bringing broadband into the classroom will help cement Britain's reputation as the hotbed of technology-enabled learning", but only if it remains "lively, practical and future-proof".

Brunel Broadband Research Centre's (B3RC) input follows a report last month by the Government's Broadband Stakeholder Group (BSG) concerning the opportunities and barriers to the use of broadband in education.

B3RC reckons that if broadband is exploited in the classroom it will help motivate pupils and improve the administration and running of schools.

The boffins based their view about the future for education and broadband on what's happing in the Far East, where both South Korea and Hong Kong have used the widespread availability of broadband to help improve learning.

For example, teachers in Korea are now more likely to post homework online than issue it in the classroom. And in Hong Kong, online portals are widely used as a forum for parents, teachers and pupils to discuss their progress.

B3RC Operations Director, Dr Jyoti Choudrie, believes the UK mustn't fall into the trap of rushing to harness new technologies only to discard them as soon as the next big thing comes along.

That's why a long-term strategy for broadband in education is essential.

"We simply can't afford to regard broadband as simply another passing fad - our research in South Korea and, more recently in Hong Kong, underlines how broadband will transform education: not just for schoolchildren, but also for parents and teachers," he said.

Last year Brunel University published a report that tried to explain why six out of every ten South Korean households has broadband, compared with just four per cent in the UK.

Its findings found that population density, price, availability and the role of broadband in education all had an impact on the widespread adoption of high speed Net access. ®

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