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ICT diary

A growing number of teachers are publishing resources on their own websites. Russ Tarr teaches history and politics at Wolver-hampton grammar school and started his own website, Activehistory, in 1998. "Many of the commercial sites were well intentioned but not practical," he says. Activehistory contains online lessons, plans, worksheets and interactive quizzes and activities. There are also book suggestions, links to examination boards, schemes of work and web-building tools. Interactive highlights include Henry VIII's virtual chatroom and a spy game about Nazi Germany.

Chantel Evans Mathias teaches English at Sir Thomas Picton comprehensive in Haverfordwest, Dyfed. She launched Fret (Free Resources for English Teaching) in April 2000. "While preparing resources at 1am it dawned on me that for every resource I made, there'd probably be a teacher somewhere who had the same plans or resources," she says.

The site (now called Fret's English Teaching Resources) has downloadable lesson plans, schemes of work and resources for many aspects of the English national curriculum and ASA2 courses. There are also recommended books and links to useful sites.

Neither Russ nor Chantel had web design experience, but both share a passion for the medium. Initially, there was some financial outlay. An interest-free loan for a computer obtained through his school helped Russ get started. He produced Activehistory with the help of www.zyweb.com, a site that helps web authors produce professional-looking sites even if they have no programming language (HTML) experience. To upload the site to the web, he used Terrapin FTP. He also invested in Quandary, the decision-making software used in interactive games. The total cost was about pound;100, most of which was reimbursed by his school. But he still had a huge phone bill.

Chantel used a manual (Sams Teach Yourself to Create Web Pages in 24 hours by Ned Snell, Sams Publishing pound;21.99) and Microsoft Front Page. "I took a lot longer than 24 hours. Setting up the structure and navigation was a mammoth job," she says. The web space costs pound;200 pounds a year, the web address pound;5. Like Russ, Chantel says her phone bill is one of the biggest outlays. She now pays a monthly fee of pound;5, which gives her unlimited access to the internet.

Russ estimates that he spends up to 15 hours a week maintaining the site. He produces most of the resources and materials and there are few contributions from other teachers.

Chantel was spending up to 20 hours a week on the site: "The success of Fret backfired," she says. "I started it as a forum for sharing resources. Teachers would contact me saying how great they thought the site was, but few contributed their own work."

Since January, Fret has become subscription-based. Teachers are paid up to pound;5 for each resource they contribute. Schemes of work can pay up to pound;60. Eventually, Chantel would like to employ someone to run the site full-time.

Janet Murray

www.activehistory.co.ukwww.english-teaching.co.uk

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