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Thursday, September 30, 1999 Published at 06:04 GMT 07:04 UK


Schools get wireless Net link

Kidlington students can access learning materials outside classtime

Seven Oxfordshire schools have linked up via wireless data links in the UK's first multiple-school Internet network of its kind.

As of 29 September, more than 2,500 students and 135 teachers in Kidlington will be able to access the Internet, and share information and resources.

Students can use video conferencing to work on collaborative projects with their peers in neighbouring schools, and access information outside classroom hours.

And teachers can develop shared resources and jointly plan the curriculum.

'Powerful tool'

The project is a community partnership between the schools in Kidlington and information technology businesses in the county, dubbed Konnect21.

The web server is based at Gosford Hill secondary school, with wireless data links to North Kidlington, Edward Feild, Dr South's, St Thomas More, West Kidlington and Woodeaton Manor primary schools.

By early next year, they hope to link up with a school in Vara, Sweden. Within a year, community groups in Kidlington should be able to access the network.

Chris Park, project manager and retired deputy head teacher of Gosford Hill, says various groups joined forces to find ways to make Kidlington a better place to live.

They came up with the school-wide network.

"Developing resources on the Internet was a really powerful way forward.

"If we can provide learning resources which can be shared locally and accessed by the community, that will be a really powerful tool."

Wired up

The project is in line with Tony Blair's commitment to bring all schools, universities and libraries online by 2001 on the National Grid for Learning, a £700m Internet-based network of online education projects.

About 90% of secondary schools, and more than half of primary schools and special schools are now connected to the Internet.

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