Opening the 12th British Education Training Technology (BETT) exhibition at Olympia, London, Mr Squire announced:
-- further initiatives to complement and enhance the education department's superhighways initiative
-- further and more focused scrutiny of the potential of integrated learning systems
Mr Squire said: 'Everywhere the potential of the communications revolution is causing governments and industries to review their practices and prepare for a new future. Education is rightly recognised as a key service area.
'Alongside our superhighways initiative the department will be sponsoring two parallel assessments. One will look at the benefit of educational Internet services. We shall evaluate these services in different learning groups and curriculum areas, in ways which complement the work already being done under DTI's schools on-line project. We shall also look at support for children with special educational needs, at school administration, at teacher training, and at services designed to sift access to materials.
'The other initiative will develop a virtual languages centre on the Internet to mesh with a project under the G7 initiative involving partners across Europe, Canada and Japan. We shall be looking carefully to see the potential for the extension of the model to other areas of learning. Details of both schemes will be available shortly.
'Evaluation is central in the DfEE's approach to the exponential growth in commercial services and products aimed at the education market. Research into integrated learning systems continues to show promise, especially in supporting aspects of numeracy. We now need further, more focused, evaluation. I welcome the considered advice on this from the NCET Council, released in a statement for schools today.
'In parallel with this work the department will continue to fund IT support materials for all national curriculum subjects, looking at ways to identify and overcome obstacles to the development of IT use in specific curriculum areas.
'All this will be assisted by greater synergy at the centre through the work of the new combined education and training technology division and the strategy which the merged department will progressively develop.'