The skill of composing good questions is at a premium here. Children starting on the Internet need lots of guidance - the youngest children should be given actual sites to look for. Only when children are experienced can they be allowed to work on their own. They will find many blind alleys, and you must judge the extent to which this is a learning experience or a waste of time. This is where a parent volunteer could help.
There are lots of relevant websites for schools . The Virtual Teachers' Centre run by the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency has one at: vtc.ngfl.gov.uk Also try:
* The TES's Learnfree site at: www.learnfree.co.uk
* The Times Educational
Supplement at: www.tes.co.uk
* For free tickets to cultural and sporting events, and on-line learning communities, visit: www.learning-circuit.co.uk
* There is evidence that when children use e-mail, they take great pains with spelling and grammar. Writing for a real audience is more motivating than a class exercise.
* E-mail questions to experts - or celebrities or children in other schools - have to be grammatical, concise and unambiguous. This is clearly a skill to practise.
* Don't assume that e-mailing is just for children with well-developed literacy skills. For younger or less able children, e-mail text can be cut and pasted into a talking word processor such as TextEase or Write Away. Messages can be composed with Clicker grids or a Concept keyboard. Special needs catalogues will provide a host of other ideas.
Potentially the most useful thing the Internet will do for schools is to provide the ability to look up a website and there find good educational activities that a child can do alone or with others or with a teacher. It points to a time when "school" will be differently defined.
Particularly exciting is the opportunity for a child to consult another teacher, or an expert, perhaps in another country, and to feel part of a worldwide learning community.
The sites suggested in this section have superb possibilities for pushing away the walls of the classroom. However:
* Test games and activities yourself - if they don't work on your machines, perhaps for technical reasons, children will be frustrated.
* If you embark on projects with other schools, think and plan in advance, and stick to what you know you can do. Don't get into something that you can't carry through - for that, too, will only cause frustration.
Additional research Gerald HaighHistory of technology John Stringer