One of the current trends in schools is the compelling need for a "learning platform". Not only because one of the government's Harnessing Technology targets say you have to have one, but because it can help you to offer more flexible learning delivery. A basic learning platform is only the start of the story though - what many schools really want is to provide a way of supporting all of their projects and planned changes. For example, with the obligation for secondary schools to deliver real-time attendance and assessment information to parents by September 2010, there's a need to join all of these online projects together. (Oh please, please, don't tell me that as a parent I'm going to have to remember another half-dozen passwords and logins for different systems. My brain is already full with web passwords as it is!)
For the last 3 years or so, Mark A'Bear (one of my witty colleagues, in case he's reading this) from the UK Education team has been working with a long list of educational ICT providers to help them to integrate their systems onto SharePoint (which is the software behind the Learning Gateway). This means that one single web-portal can link together all of your different ICT systems, and your users can access them all in one place, with one password, and from home & school.
Each term, Mark hosts an event for schools to come along to our headquarters here in Reading, to understand that work, and to talk with the partners to understand how that integration can work. This term's SharePoint Showcase is on the 21st May, and Mark's already put together a big attendee list of partners who will be presenting:
Arc - eLearningForce - Digi-Link - MicroLibrarian Systems - K2 - Scholaris - Parabola - WinVision - eCopy - Business Insights Group - Nisai - ITWorx - Fronter - Cambridge University Press
As always, there's a packed agenda, and if you want help to improve a learning platform strategy, I'm pretty sure that you will leave with a number of ideas to help you with your planning. And the content is relevant whether you're using SharePoint already, or want to understand what it might be able to do with you. There are also a mass of schools where the local authority has chosen a SharePoint or Learning Gateway-based learning platform, and this session would help you to understand what you might be asking your local authority to provide in the future.