Educational image company zooms in on best of Scotland
The panoramic images of rolling fields, craggy mountains, blue lochs and sandy bays show Scotland to be a sun-kissed and breathtakingly beautiful country.
Hang on a minute. Sun-kissed?
Martin Clemoes, director of the company that has just launched the latest edition of its educational image software, Eye2eye Britain, at BETT 2011, explains: "About 3,000 schools are now using our package, but we're a small company based in Cambridge. So these tend to be concentrated in the South East and the Midlands.
"But our photographic coverage of Scotland is as good as, or better than, anywhere else. Partly that's because there are lots of beautiful places there. It's also because we put a lot of planning into our photographic expeditions to Scotland, because it's so far away from us - and we pick times of the year when we will get good weather. That's why it seems so sunny in the photos."
There is also a more personal reason, he says, for the quality of the Scottish photography. "My granny belonged to the Paton family which owned the woollen mills in Alloa. So I am part-Scottish."
New features in the latest edition of Eye2eye Britain include a greater number of photographs of the Scottish islands. "Last summer we extended our coverage, in 360 degree panoramas and stills, by adding Islay, Jura, Colonsay and Tiree," he says. "That means we now have comprehensive coverage of points of interest in the Inner and Outer Hebrides, Orkney, Skye, Mull, Arran and Bute, as well as the Scottish mainland - and the same, of course, across England, Wales and the Isle of Man."
A valuable classroom resource from lower primary right up to upper secondary, Eye2eye Britain can be used in two distinct ways, says Mr Clemoes - whole-class teaching on the whiteboard and pupils exploring the images and using them in their own projects, homework or presentations.
"The main new feature this year is a playlist facility that lets teachers decide in advance what they want to show the class during a lesson. So, suppose the topic was the Lord of the Isles. The teacher could pick out the relevant panoramas and stills - Somerled Square in Portree, the nunnery ruins on Iona, Trinity Temple, North Uist - and then play through these in class, while introducing the topic to the children. That's a powerful new addition to the software."
Basic use of the resource and access to the images is through a clickable map of the UK. A search facility will find key words among the captions and titles provided for every image and panorama, and pick out relevant sites on the map.
A set of pre-programmed tours is provided, including Beautiful Britain and a round trip that covers the entire UK coastline in steps of just 10 miles or so. Currently, the package contains 1,600 panoramas at points of interest and 11,000 still photographs - all taken by Mr Clemoes and his colleagues.
"We are a small family business," he says. "Last summer, for instance, my son and I rented a caravan in Bruichladdich, one of the distillery villages on Islay, where we did all the research and worked our way around the islands taking the photographs."
A timeline from the prehistoric age to the present allows an Eye2eye user whose interest is history, rather than geography, to select a period - Stone, Bronze, Iron Ages, Roman Britain, Anglo-Saxon, Norman, Medieval, Tudor, Civil War, Georgian, industrial age, 20th century - and then find and explore the relevant sites.
"We aim to take you anywhere in the country that a teacher or pupil would want to go," says Mr Clemoes, "whether that is a castle rampart, a historic battlefield or the summit of Ben Nevis."
INSPIRATION IN A FLASH
The still photos in Eye2eye Britain are often stunning, displaying an artist's eye for light, colour and composition. But the smoothly sweeping, full-screen, three-dimensional panoramas of Scottish locations such as Glen Clova, Stirling Castle, Brodick seafront, the Black Cuillin and hundreds of others, are simply breathtaking.
Free demos of the panoramas - of Snowdon, Bath and Dorset - can be found at www.eye2eyesoft. co.ukPAGE7.htm
A school site licence for Eye2eye Britain Panoramic permits its use on a school network or on any number of individual PCs at a school, as well as in the teachers' homes. It also permits home use on the virtual learning environment (VLE) by pupils for one year.
Any of the 1,600 full-screen panoramas and 11,000 photographs of 3,000 places around the UK may be used by teachers or pupils for educational purposes. Teaching notes and project suggestions are provided in a format suitable for English, Scottish and Welsh schools.
The school site licence costs pound;159 plus VAT. For more information, visit www.eye2eyesoft. co.ukschool.htm.