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Desktop Damascus

The editor of The TES on her web conversion

It is three years since, as a nervous adventurer, I took my first tentative step into that extraordinary ocean of information known as the Internet. I am still only splashing in the shallows - being too short of time to really plunge in wholeheartedly - but there is no doubt that this is one of the most exciting developments of our age.

The range of information available can add to everyone's professional and personal life. Every possible wish is catered for somewhere. When I first began surfing the Net, I was working in France on an international research project; one of the participants was Denmark - and I found I could call up the Danish Ministry of Education's website and, in a minute, print a detailed and invaluable description of their education system. Next, I found my way to the OFSTED site, and was able to read - from Paris - the inspection report of a possible London secondary school for my daughter.

From the Irish Tourist Board site, I found out what plays and exhibitions were on in Dublin - where I was about to spend a weekend; and I printed a recipe for "beany bake" from a special site for vegetarians for my vegetarian son.

My experience ought to convince you - if you've been fighting shy of the Internet - that there's nothing to be scared of. Surfing the Web is fascinating and illuminating. Probably the best way of conceptualising it is as a gigantic communication system that can put you in touch with anything you might want to know. We have barely started to explore its educational implications.

It is important, of course, to have a trusted guide when you first put your toe in the water - and this is where The TES website comes in. Our site is now free of charge, and we are updating it and improving it all the time so that it responds to teachers' needs in a way no other website can. You can find a wealth of educational material on our site, including The TES itself, both this week's issue and our valuable archive, which includes every article we have published since October 1994 - a unique resource.

Visit our Virtual Staffroom, through which you can communicate with other teachers; ideas on teaching materials for specific topics, or on how to survive OFSTED inspections are always popular.

You can also jump, using our special hotlinks, to hundreds of other education-related sites - the Association for Science Education, for example; BBC Education On-line; the Department for Education and Employment; the National Association for Primary Education; OFSTED; the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority; the Teacher Training Agency; UCAS.

We have set up links specifically to help school governors; and you can hop easily to information from other countries - including a link to American initiatives, such as US government advice on how to combat truancy. Data on local education authorities, unions and examination boards and - most fascinating of all - the individual websites of a host of schools across Britain are available in a couple of clicks.

So think of the TES website as a rich resource for you to draw on, and also your gateway to the rest of the World Wide Web - including this National Grid for Learning that everyone is talking about. We can hold your hand every step of the way. Within a few months, you will even be able to hunt for a new job through our site. So use us to get yourself wired - and if you're already a seasoned visitor to the site, let us know how you think we could improve and develop it so that we always remain the education website.

Good surfing!

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