Virtually all schools now have networked, broadband access that enables pupils and teachers to access information and resources within the school. The challenge now is to extend the school’s network so that it offers access to learning resources, online storage and tools for communication and management not just within school, but from outside it too, through a learning platform.

The Government’s e-strategy sets the expectation that:

* by spring 2008 every pupil should have access to a personalised online learning space with the potential to support an e-portfolio (provided by their local authority)
* by 2010 every school should have integrated learning and management systems (a comprehensive suite of learning platform technologies).

A learning platform brings together hardware, software and supporting services to enable more effective ways of working within and outside the classroom. Read more about the benefits of a learning platform.

Learning platforms can vary considerably, but each should provide a range of ICT-based functions:

* Content management – enabling teaching staff to create, store and repurpose resources and coursework which can be accessed online
* Curriculum mapping and planning – providing tools and storage to support assessment for learning, personalisation, lesson planning etc.
* Learner engagement and administration – enabling access to pupil information, attendance, timetabling, e-portfolios and management information
* Tools and services – providing communication tools such as email, messaging, discussion forums and blogs.

A learning platform is therefore not a single ‘off the shelf’ product but a collection of tools that are designed to support teaching, learning, management and administration.