The Department of Trade and Industry’s (DTI) developed the Microelectronics Application Programme aimed at encouraging the use of microelectronics in all types of industries. Following Kenneth Baker's appointment as Minister of Information Technology the DTI developed a specific “Micros in Schools” scheme (providing BBC, Sinclair and RM computers) and also later provided an Educational Software scheme. Together with the Department of Employment’s (DE) Technical and Vocational Education Initiative these provided significant impetus and money to new innovations during the latter part of the eighties. .
Kenneth Baker MP
The Department of Trade and Industry’s (DTI) developed the Microelectronics Application Programme aimed at encouraging the use of microelectronics in all types of industries. Following Kenneth Baker's appointment as Minister of Information Technology the DTI developed a specific “Micros in Schools” scheme (providing BBC, Sinclair and RM computers) and also later provided an Educational Software scheme. Together with the Department of Employment’s (DE) Technical and Vocational Education Initiative these provided significant impetus and money to new innovations during the latter part of the eighties.
Kenneth Baker was a great advocate for government involvement in microlectronics and could be said to have created his own job as Minister for Information Technology. In a speech he made in June 1980 (Large, 1980) as a backbench Conservative MP he outlined a "National Strategy for Information Technology" which included a 10-point programme the first of which was the appointment of a Minister of Information Technology who would act as a focal point in Government for the IT industry (Meurglys68, 2011)
In this strategy and in subsequent articles he was critical of the slowness of the DES and felt that they should do more to support microcomputers in schools. He proposed that all schools should be provided with small and low-cost personal computers and software systems made by British companies that a national training programme in the new skills should be started at all levels, from schools to universities including both teachers and pupils (Baker, 1980).
The Department of Trade and Industry ran three separate schemes under which both state and independent schools could apply for a 50 per cent grant towards the purchase of computer equipment. Under the first scheme, which ran from June 1981 to December 1982, 6511 secondary schools received a computer and related equipment representing over 95 per cent of all schools eligible. The primary schools scheme, which offered a similar range of equipment, began in October 1982 and by 1984 more than 23,000 primary schools had taken up the offer. The extension scheme for secondary under which schools were offered 50 per cent support towards upgrading
their original computer plus finished in June l984 with some 4000 schools receiving help. Each second-
ary school throughout the country has, on average, seven computers. (Dalyell, 1984)
However this didn't mean that individual students got much experience of computer usage. The BBC`s
Educational Broadcasting Services Research Unit surveyed 432 schools in 1984 (Lamb, 1985). Only 30 were able to give more than three-quarters of their senior pupils a "go" on a microcomputer. ln the 11-12 age range, about one quarter of the schools that took part in the BBC survey had managed to give the majority of these children experience of computers.
Year - Stamps
Kenneth Baker persuaded the Government to declare 1982 an Information Technology Year. Baker in an interview with Your Computer magazine (Meurglys68, 2011).Sullivany (1985) describes the year of information technology as characterised by a hive of activity sponsored and stimulated by the IT 82 campaign. The creation of Information Technology centres(ITeCs) at strategic points throughout Britain aimed at providing facilities for the 16–19 age group provided training in a variety of facets of IT, including programming and micro-electronic technical skills. There was a general campaign to educate the British public as to the advantages of information technology with country-wide regional centres set up, which provided advice and information to potential users or users of the micro-technology. This was supported by exhibitions and conferences held at regular intervals throughout the length and breadth of the country.
ITeCs were set up with the aim: "... to provide young people with the new skills necessary for Britain to take a leading part in the technology revolution." (Wellington p.78). The first ITeC was in Notting Dale, West London set up in 1979. When Kenneth Baker visited the centre in 1981 he was impressed enough to propose a national network of such centres from Scotland and Northumberland to West Hales and Devon. By 1987 there
were around 175 ITeCs.
Interactive Video System
Interactive Video was an early multimedia technology that used 12 inch discs to store video and data. A number of different competing, and incompatible systems were created. The DTI provided £2M for an Interactive Video in School's project (IVIS). The project ran from January 1986 to March 1988, administered by the Council for Educational Technology and, subsequently, the National Interactive Video Centre (NIVC).
Eight packages with a videodisc, computer software and curriculum materials were developed for use in Design, Environmental Studies, French (Siville), Geography, Maths (School Disco), Primary Teacher Training (Missing the Obvious), Primary Science (Life and Energy), Professional and Social Education (Challenges).
Two other packages were subsequently developed specifically for the IVIS delivery system - Motion: A Visual Database (Anglia Higher Education College) and the Shell Interactive Video Project. (NCET, 1993, p.32)
Interactive Video Disc - with CD for comparison
In 1988 the DTI also provided £1.5m to put two delivery systems into every LEA, and one into every Initial Teaching Training Establishment - some 223 institutions altogether. Six configurations were offered: 46% chose an IVIS system with BBC 128 computer, 14% an IVIS system with RM Nimbus computer-both of which offered a choice of Philips or Sony LaserVision player - and 40% chose the AIV Domesday system. There were problems with both hardware and software, but some LEAs - notably Cambridge and Grampian - employed the IVIS materials extensively and effectively. With further funding from the DTI in 1988, and the DES and TVEI in 1989, the support scheme continued as Interactive Video in Education (IVIE) but was winding down when the NIVC itself collapsed, at the end of 1990.
The DTI also funded the Interactive Video in Further Education (IVIFE) project that ran for three years from
September 1987, with £1.9m funding to develop interactive video packages for use in industry and further and higher education. Six packages were released in October 1989: Effective Diagnostics, Effective Teamwork.
Expodisc Spanish, PCBs: A Board in One, The Training Needs of Trainers and Turning Tools.
The DTI subsequently funded the purchase of 100 workstations with MS-DOS computers and dual-standard PAL/NTSC LaserDisc players, for the evaluation of the IVIFE courseware in open learning centres and colleges.
The Economic and Social Research Council was one of a number of Research Councils funded by government. It set up a major programme: the Information Technology and Education Programme or 'Inter' coordinated by Bob Lewis of Lancaster University. A major research programme was funded in 1988 created a number of projects and papers (Rhodes and Cox, 1990)
Meurglys68 (2011) Interview with Kenneth Baker Your Computer Online, [online] http://yourcomputeronline.wordpress.com/2011/01/06/interview-kenneth-baker/
Baker K. (1980) 'Now is the time for the microchip kid' The Guardian (1980 Dec 31) ISSN 02613077.[online]
Large P. (1980) 'Tory Technology Wets Come Out of Hiding' The Guardian (1980 ), Jun 24 [online], (http://libezproxy.open.ac.uk/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/186279295?accountid=14697)
NCET (1993) Envision vol.:1993:1, NCET, Coventry
Sullivan B.C., (1985) "Economics of Information Technology", International Journal of Social Economics, Vol. 12 Iss: 1, pp.37 - 53
Wellington (1988) 'Information Technology in Education and Employment: A Critical Examination of Developments in Both Areas and the Relationship Between Them' PhD Thesis, University of Sheffield [online] http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/1847/1/DX194056.pdf