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Pixel power at the Windmill

Liz Lawrence, a teacher at Windmill First School, Oxfordshire, retires today

Which information technology product - software or hardware - has made a difference to you?

With Clipboard we have been able to set up a simple database for a study of our local area for six to nine-year-old children. They can access details of households on Windmill Road, Headington. They can enquire about the occupation of a householder, age, and place of birth.


Our history co-ordinator, Linda Hayward, had all this information and she went on a course at the Oxfordshire Computer Unit where she had the idea of putting it all into Clipboard.

What do you like or dislike about the program?

We like it because it is mouse-driven and can be used on both our 486 multimedia PCs and our old Nimbus 186s. It was the easiest way for us to meet national curriculum needs, and it's easy for key stage 1 and 2 pupils to use. The screen displays are attractive, searching is easy. You can display information using a limited range of graphs.

When did you start using it?

People gradually worked themselves into it after we first got the program in 1991, and the county IT team ran some twilight in-service training. I began using it extensively for topics such as Ourselves or My Body. We also use it for weekly weather recording, printing the results out each Friday.

Who decided to buy it and were you involved in the choice?

Oxfordshire Education Authority bought a licence, so it was cheap for us to get copies for our school.

How does it compare with other ways of tackling the same tasks?

We had programs, such as Quest and Edit-Display-Relate, but they were very complicated. We think young children can cope with Clipboard very well. It provides transferable skills for Information Workshop and Flexidata which they will use later on, so it helps to build progression and continuity. It just meets our needs.

How do you think it could be improved?

People do get irritated by the limitations of the graph - only 10 items in a field - and by the fact that numeric data can only be shown as a histogram. Other annoying things are that you can only have 15 characters in a filed name and some children have names longer than that. And there is a maximum of 300 records, so you can't keep a daily record for a year.

If you had more funding, what would you invest in?

We would update all our hardware so we could use programs like Flexidata and Information Workshop so as to build on skills in a progressive way.

* Clipboard (Pounds 85 for 10 users) is available from BlackCat Educational Software, The Barn, Cwm Camlais, Brecon, Powys LD3 8TD. Tel: 01874 636835. Fax: 01874 636858. E-mail: Web address: http:www.blackcatsoftware

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