Jiri Sumbal, elementary school teacher of information technology in Koprumice in the Czech Republic Which information technology product - software or hardware - has made a difference to your worklife?
Microsoft Works, the integrated software program which we use in this small elementary school where there are 600 pupils of all ages.
Our pupils have the opportunity to use the computers from the age of nine, when they can go to the computer club. Use of computers is obligatory from the age of 13; but we have only 13. We use Microsoft Works with all the older child-ren at our school; they start by using the text editor and then go on to the spreadsheet. We introduce it to them using finished texts and a spread-sheet about three students going on a trip.
What do you like or dislike about it?
It is an easy way to make our work with information technology more creative. The basic advantage is that it's very easy to use and you can change things without difficulty. The same commands are used to do things like opening and closing files in each program.
When did you start using it?
About three years ago I bought a note-book PC with Works already installed on it, and I found it very easy to use.
Who decided to buy it and were you involved in the choice?
I decided to get it as I could see that it would be right for our pupils.
How does it compare with other ways of tackling the same tasks?
Sometimes other tools are better: we also use Microsoft's Creative Writer with the younger children. Some of them use it to make their own newspaper.
How do you think it could be improved?
It is not possible to get text to flow around a picture; that's the main thing that I wish it could do.
If you had more funding, what would you invest in?
Maybe I would try something new, but it would still be an integrated package. There is a need for new hardware first. We do have one computer to use with the scanner, and the teacher's computer is a multimedia PC, but it is the only one in the school. British teachers are welcome to read more about our school on our homepage, which is at http:www.edunet.czedunetskolyzs_als_kopals. html.
* Microsoft Works, around Pounds 90 from software dealers, is widely available