From galleys to galleries

7th March 1997 at 00:00
As in 1996, the secondary category of the Mixed Media Resources Award was interesting, but less exciting than the primary. This reflected the different ethos, with our criteria suiting better the primary practice of a class working on different activities in small groups, using a range of media which allow for differentiation and versatility. Perhaps it also reflected more creative thinking in primary publishing.

Several entries were interesting and attractive. The AEB Driving Theory Test Resource Pack (AEB), for example, uses CD-Rom and printed material to support an individual learning, or an organisation teaching, the content of the new "theory" element of driving. The material is well produced and the CD-Rom is easy to use. It does not use the lively animation or video potential of much multimedia but it does present many "scenarios" on screen for learners or instructors to make use of. The printed material is well written, and for teachersinstructors is supplemented by a range of good overhead projector transparencies. Most of the judges felt that this is an excellent package for learner drivers and instructors but it does not fit into the UK curriculum.

The Royal Navy's Ark Royal pack (produced by Education and Youth) was well received by the judges. The pack uses three media - video, CD-Rom and printed material - to explain how a ship of this size works. Many difficult concepts in physics, such as hydrostatic pressure and displacement, are clearly explained.

The logistics of how a plane takes off from an aircraft carrier are cleverly dealt with, allowing learners to try take-offs at different speeds and different trajectories. The judges tried this simulation, having reflected carefully on the complex variables involved, and managed to land all their aeroplanes in the sea. It just shows that you should never employ a committee to fly a jet fighter. Come back Tom Cruise.

The Ark Royal pack contains a considerable amount of material which could be used in, for example, the designtechnology or science areas of the curriculum. At first we thought it would be of interest only to the "boys", but they do have a woman as their Chief Engineer on the CD-Rom.

And so to the winner. The TSB Artsbound package is well produced and was felt by some judges to be a clear leader. The pack has been sponsored by TSB to help promote art, drama and music in the secondary curriculum. It uses a mixture of media - video, posters, audio-CD and printed material - which can be supplemented by the Microsoft CD-Rom of the National Gallery as schools become involved in the scheme.

The First Visit component of the TSB initiative involves a visit to the National Gallery and also suggests visiting one of the local galleries listed in the package. First Movement provides an introduction to classical music and again aims to encourage young people to participate in music and the arts.

First Visit is an excellent way to introduce people to the National Gallery. The activities are such that teachers could use them all the way across the curriculum. Many of the cards and sheets could be photocopied and used directly in the classroom.

The awards and visits schemes which go with the TSB initiative will also ensure maximum pupil involvement and follow-up work in school and perhaps as homework. Best of all, the pack is free!

After the judges agreed on the winner, general criticisms of the varied entries concerned the difficulty of some of the language, a lack of sufficient support material for teachers, and rather too much of a "promotional push" in packages produced by commercial organisations.

Again, the plea for next year is for producers, providers, sponsors and publishers to show judges that the secondary tradition does not need to be more didactic and concerned solely with "delivering" the curriculum than the primary phase; and that the secondary classroom can really be enriched by flexible, student-centred, differentiated resources.

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