Designed to draw you in

20th June 2003 at 01:00
Visiting a website created by a designer who is also a teacher can be highly instructive. The Auchinleck Academy art and design department's site, which will be the focus of a seminar at the SETT show, is a case in point.

It greets the visitor with an intriguing visual device: coloured shapes spiral around before resolving themselves into glimpses of a vivid landscape of pupils' paintings, surrounded by text explaining that the site has already won two awards.

The "Art Word of the Month" is disconcerting at first, as the definition ripples around the screen, following the cursor like a responsive if inebriated conga line.

However, Pamela Baxter's website does not feel like the ephemeral offerings so widespread on the Internet. It inspires confidence. It seems solid. It looks built to last.

Exploring the site is like wandering through a modern art gallery, its rooms bursting with colour, while your hand is held by a friendly, knowledgeable guide.

On the Web, too much solidity can be stultifying. Great sites deliver variety, innovation and growth. While some parts of the Auchinleck Academy art site alter slowly - the course notes, homework assignments, advice on research and written work, careers information, resources for teachers - others are changing and developing.

"The site will continue to grow," says Ms Baxter. "An effective site is up-to-date and active."

This means in particular that the stunning student work currently showcased on the site will not remain there forever. Good galleries offer opportunities to show fresh talent.

"The website allows pupils to be creative," says Ms Baxter. "It encourages independent learning and has the power to boost people's confidence. It is very satisfying when you tell a pupil that their work is on the Web and they reply: 'Mine? Really?' "


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