Intel drives IT into the classroom

3D Shakespeare and multimedia maths lessons could become an integral part of the national curriculum following an ambitious education initiative to be unveiled later today at the House of Commons by Intel .The US chip giant is working with academics, UK software developers and teachers to create interactive, multimedia software packages to enhance English, math and history lessons, and to boost teachers' IT skills.

3D Shakespeare and multimedia maths lessons could become an integral part of the national curriculum following an ambitious education initiative to be unveiled later today at the House of Commons by Intel .

The US chip giant is working with academics, UK software developers and teachers to create interactive, multimedia software packages to enhance English, math and history lessons, and to boost teachers' IT skills. The initiative, announced by Intel chief executive Craig Barrett, also includes a research project with Oxford University to study the benefits of IT in the classroom and a range of networking products to simplify the wiring up of schools. Barrett said that the project was not a 'quick-fix', but part of Intel's long-term, strategic commitment to education. "As we approach the milestone of one billion connected PCs worldwide, we need to ensure that teachers have the tools they need, and the training there need, to make multimedia-media teaching both beneficial and fun," Barrett said.

Senior ministers, academics and teachers were given a sneak preview of some of the software titles that may one day replace books. Createc, a branch of the National Film and Television School, is involved in the development of 3D animation software designed to give a high-tech twist to English and drama lessons. Scriptwriter allows pupils to scan in photos of themselves in real-time, and animate themselves as characters in a play. Other developments include a history programme that is based on the siege of Rochester Castle in 1215. The title, developed in conjunction with Immersive Education, allows students to immerse themselves in battle scenarios. The company plans to create tiles optimised for its forthcoming Katmai New Instructions.

Intel's aggressive push into the classroom coincides with a report published by UK consultancy firm Information Builders and the CBI, that teachers are "out of touch" with IT. In a bid to support teachers flummoxed by the flood of new technology in the classroom, Intel plans to fund the development of a teachers' extranet, which will provide educational, news and research links - a project backed by the UK government's National Grid for Learning Consortium. The company is also working with UK Net Year to publish IT training supplements for teachers.

Also part of Barrett's educational onslaught is a modified networking suite to help simplify network connection for schools. The products on offer include fool-proof, single-user Internet connectivity.

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