Went to an interesting meeting today in Leicester of NIACE’s NLN Advisory Group, where we were discussing the present state of ILT developments and prospects for 2007-08.  The landscape is changing. Michael Stephenson, appointed Head of the DfES Technology Group last year, leaves at the end of the month and a less prominent role looks likely to be played by the DfES centrally. His responsibilities will be taken over by Becta, where Andrew Pinder, formerly e-Envoy from 2000-2004 has been chairman since January.

Alan Clarke, NIACE Associate Director for ICT and Learning was keen to discover over the autumn what the ACL sector’s priorities were for next year, when the LSC will be reducing the ILT expenditure for ACL to about 60% of its current £3.7 million. There was reports too about the new ICT-linked Workplace and Offender Learning programmes, given respectively by NIACE Development Officers, Angela Wood and Patsy Cummins.

I was particularly interested in the services which Robert Prabucki reported UKERNA will be rolling out over the next 12 months. These clearly stem from commitments made in the 2005 DfES e-Strategy Report. There has been a process of re-tendering for the Super-JANET network and the resulting cost reductions will mean that ACL providers will be able to request up to 10Mb bandwidth – significantly higher than they have at present.

UKERNA will also be developing full VOIP functionality for JANET users, which with a fairly small investment could have a big impact on telephone costs particularly for large providers. Another area being pursued is the use of the Shibboleth system for single authentication, which I described in my 11 May posting. This will help to create a virtually seamless environment for users whether they log in at a library, school or local centre.