Get your vision on

For a comprehensive visual resource, ClipBank's online subscription is hard to beat, says George Cole

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video clip must be worth more. Teachers spend a lot of time explaining and describing all manner of concepts, processes and principles, and there are times when a video clip can make everything so much easier to understand. The snag is finding the right clip, and few teachers have hours to scour endless videos or DVDs.

This where ClipBank comes in. Developed by Channel 4's 4Learning, it's an online service that offers teachers more than 750 specially-selected clips under three main subject headings: science, geography and history. The service is designed for key stage 3 pupils, although several modern language subjects, maths for 11 to 16-year-olds, and science and geography for ages 6-11 are under development.

ClipBank is a subscription service (and eligible under the electronic learning credits scheme) that schools can subscribe to annually. It uses a standard web browser interface and images can be downloaded and stored on a school server. The science module has 227 clips covering 40 topics, including energy, food, forces and senses. The geography module has 26 topics and 250 clips that include climate, population, glaciation and rocks. The third module, history, has 284 clips and covers 14 topics such as the World Wars, the Middle East, the US and Ireland. The clips vary in length from less than a minute to around five minutes and so can easily be integrated into a classroom presentation. The clips come in two formats: RealPlayer clips for multiple users or high-quality MPEG clips for displaying on an interactive whiteboard. Naturally, a broadband connection works best with this type of service and caching the content (storing it on the school server) is highly recommended - it will also be delivered on to school networks via multiple DVDs.

But what teachers will like best of all is the ease with which relevant clips can be found. For example, you can browse for clips by theme or topic, format or QCA scheme (although when I looked at ClipBank, the latter was still under development). Imagine a history teacher wanting to find a clip on say, World War I. He or she can search by decade (1910-1919) or topic (World War I). The latter selection reveals a list of 27 clips ranging from "Your Country Needs You" to "Zeppelin Raids Over Britain".

Even better is when you select a clip, you are presented with description of it, its context, key words, related clips and a glossary. You can also preview the clip by watching it in a small video window on your PC screen.

Everything is hyperlinked and easy to navigate - if you can explore the internet, you'll have few problems with this program. ClipBank is a great concept, although schools will need to check with 4Learning that it offers enough content for them to buy in a licence.


Prices: pound;250 per subject annual full site licence or pound;675 for all three subjects.

Channel 4 Learning

Tel: 08701 24644


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