July 18, 2003

Education secretary Charles Clarke was technologically challenged at the launch of the government's e-learning strategy consultation document at Birkbeck College, London, last week. Lights and sound randomly switched on and off during his and other speeches while delegates roasted without air conditioning. The culprit was a super-sensor installed at the top of the lecture theatre that latecomers inadvertently activated while looking for a seat. But it wasn't just the mike that flummoxed Clarke. "I consider myself an intelligent purchaser," he said, "but whenever I shop for educational software I always feel ripped off, particularly if it involves medieval history."

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