A panel of leading education experts are warning schools and colleges to ensure they invest in IT equipment that children are happy to use.

Failure to do so, they warn, could lead to expensive ICT equipment becoming effectively obsolete in months, rather than years.

Speaking in October at a debate hosted by FileMaker and Apple, the experts warned that schools will find it's not enough to simply invest in established technology in order to provide the best learning environment for children.

They stressed the need to implement technologies that can adapt to the requirements of the curriculum while also being relevant to and accepted by their young users.

Education analysts currently believe that by 2016, pupils will be using mobile devices, including phones, notebooks and handheld games consoles as learning tools.

They also predict that social networking technologies will become more important in future, anticipating that kids will use video blogs, podcasts and digital photography to help them learn.

The group said it was concerned that if schools ignored young people's propensity to adopt the latest technologies in their everyday lives, and confine them to outdated hardware in an ICT classroom, they could miss the core aims of ICT in education.

They pointed to the success of podcasts and the rise of mobile phone image-taking by children, and suggested attaching these trends more effectively to the existing environment for learning.

"Ten years ago, kids didn't have mobile phones, the iPod didn't exist. Now schools are podcasting and students use mobile phones to capture digital video and images for projects," said former teacher turned educational software developer Chris Boulton of CJM Software.

The panel pointed to the fast wave of change within the technology industy, warning educationalists that the technologies they invest in today may not remain so relevant in the coming years.

"Our challenge as a supplier is to provide products which allow schools flexibility and are ultimately designed as school-specific - not just repackaged from the corporate sphere or built on outdated platforms," stressed FileMaker's UK regional manager, Tony Speakman. "Just as we are always moving forward with technological advancements, so should our portfolio of educational software solutions."

The discussion looked at a range of matters the panelists felt would occupy growing importance in the years ahead, including: collaboration, specific, custom-built solutions in preference to a 'one-size-fits-all' strategy; network and web access matters and the need to expand learning outside of the classroom.

They also stressed that when it comes to the use of technology in education, the goal should be to teach "true critical thinking skills", rather than forcing kids to learn how to use specific software solutions, "which may no longer be relevant when they hit the workforce".

Both FileMaker and Apple will exhibit at the UK's leading ICT in education event, BETT, between 10-13 January at London's Olympia Exhibition Centre.