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AIMS Multimedia

Yolanda Brooks sees the future at the World Education Market exhibition in Vancouver

Another company unveiling a new service at WEM was AIMS Multimedia - a Californian outfit specialising in educational programmes on video, laser disc and CD-Rom. While the BBC has been talking about its digital curriculum for some time, AIMS has already launched its own version for the educational market. offers streaming video on demand to schools in the United States for around $1,000 (pound;707) a year. For that price, schools have access to hundreds of curriculum-related programmes at any time of the day. Three different libraries are available - elementary, middle school and high school - and each individual library has dozens of titles.

The high school library, for example, contains 45 categories ranging from world history, space science and literature to ethics and values, sexual harassment, driver training and nutrition. Each video under those categories lasts from 10 miutes to an hour. Although schools buy entire libraries rather than individual titles, teachers can block titles they don't want pupils to have access to. They can also direct students to videos that complement class work, or students can work independently, searching the database for relevant material for homework, coursework and so on. As well as high-quality video, the images are supported by text, downloadable teaching materials and online tests that can be monitored by teachers.

As in the UK, many schools in the US still don't have the bandwidth to cope with such a service, but with the promised broadband revolution in UK schools, all classrooms could be receiving curriculum materials in this way within two to five years.

In the meantime, while the BBC continues to talk, plan and wait for government permission, you can see what the future may hold by visiting the AIMS website at and even sign up for the 30-day trial.

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