Mike Temple, IT co-ordinator at Ifield School, Gravesend, Kent, talks to Chris Abbott
Which information technology product - software or hardware - makes all the difference?
Print Artist, a graphics package with a large selection of clip-art.
As a special school we were looking for a graphics program which is not word-driven like Corel Draw. Print Artist will do an alphabetical search but it also provides a preview graphic. The students mainly use it to enhance work, add graphics and manipulate word art, which is very easy to do. It has photographs in it as well, and you can blend these with graphics. Staff find it exceptionally useful for posters and classroom displays.
When did you start using it?
We got it about a year ago and our students have used it since September, once the staff were comfortable with it. The learning cycle from zero to use is about five minutes and that's very unusual for a graphics program. Key stage 3 and 4 students use it most.
Who decided to buy it and were you involved in the choice?
We saw the program about two years ago on a demo disc that came with a magazine. We thought it was stunning but we couldn't find anyone to buy it from. Then someone saw it on sale in America and finally we found it at a computer warehouse. We started with a couple of copies but we would like to get more.
How does it compare with other ways of tackling the same tasks?
An extra handle on the graphic box drives the rotation aspect, with another handle for skew. This is very simple to use compared to Corel Draw.
You can import graphics into Works, Publisher or Corel Draw if you need other features. All the test effects will preview instantly on screen so our students can use it easily.
How do you think it could be improved?
For us, at the moment, it fulfils all our needs. If it had more features it wouldn't be so simple to use. The only thing you could improve would be to add to the number of images, maybe with more photographic ones, but there are plenty in there already.
If you had more funding, what would you invest in?
We would increase the number of copies around the school, and of course this program lends itself to use with colour printers. It runs better on faster machines of course, and we do have plans to upgrade our computers so that we have a network room as well as two multimedia PCs in each classroom.
* Print Artist is available at Pounds 19.99 plus Pounds 1.60 postage and package from Sierra On-Line, 2 Beacontree Plaza, Gillette Way, Reading RG2 0BS. Tel: 0118 9209180. Fax: 0118 9875600
* If you have an information technology product that has made an important difference to your life - whether you like or hate it - contact the multimediaIT Editor at the TES, Admiral House, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1 9XY. World Wide Web address: https:www.tes.co.uk