Broadband essential for learning

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The UK government's recent interim report on 'Digital Britain' makes a powerful argument for universal access to modern technology as a key driver of the country's economic prospects. Universal access to high speed broadband by 2012 will be vital for business, not only to continue to transform business processes, but also to deliver the education and skills required. Connecting the last 40 % of the population to our digital society gives a huge opportunity to raise education standards and provide powerful incentives to continue learning throughout life, across the population. Never has it been more important to provide all of those facing the challenges of the labour market with the support they will need. It is clear that digital connectivity and discriminating use of digital technology have a vital role to play. Technology helps schools, colleges and universities to run themselves more efficiently; to make more effective use of data to monitor progress and tailor the curriculum to individual needs; to motivate learners to achieve and continue in education; and to communicate effectively and interactively with learners, parents and carers.

Becta research shows that schools which have achieved a key national benchmark for use of technology for learning, the ICT Mark, are four times more likely to be rated as outstanding in the overall effectiveness category of Ofsted inspection reports. And pupils at ICT Mark schools achieve better results. We see similar benefits in further and higher education, and in learning in the workplace. Our ITC Test Bed programme showed that using technology in further education programmes increased learner satisfaction from 50 to 99%. For those in employment, in particular, there is a huge opportunity to promote anytime, anywhere access to online training and development which can be built around busy working lives

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