You can follow Scotland's primary schools this summer and inspect the Net, writes Julie Morrice
Lots of people like to immerse themselves in the technicalities of computing, but you don't need to know how a television works to watch Neighbours or understand the internal combustion engine to drive a car.
So says Ivan Mykytyn, development manager at the Scottish Council for Educational Technology (SCET), who emphasises the friendly face of computing. He is enthusiastic about the possibilities the Internet can offer schools.
"In the last six months, there has been a real burst of primary schools coming on to the Internet, and some of them are superb sites,'' he says.
He is particularly taken with websites from Islay schools, which include wonderful photographs taken by pupils; and by the Fair Isle's primary school site, which includes work from all six of the school's pupils. "It's bright, colourful, outward-looking and really gives you a feel for the local environment," he says.
Mykytyn would like to see all Scotland's primary schools put a child's-eye view of their locality on to the Internet, and have them linked up to create a "map" of the country. He feels primary schools have made better use of the Net than some secondaries, because they treat it like "the biggest school wall in the world" and cover it with children's work. By contrast, many secondary school websites are off-putting and unrevealing.
Mykytyn hopes SCET's Summer Surfing courses, for both primary and secondary teachers, will inspire teachers to use the Net as both an information source and a place to put themselves on show to the world. "People can start off feeling doubtful about the Internet, but I've never found anyone saying, 'It's no use to me' by the end of a session," he says.
The Internet is all things to all people. Whether you are looking for interactive maps, the history of France in French, or up-to-date, 24-hour information on everything from cheap holidays to medical breakthroughs, the Internet is "a bit like having access to all the libraries in the world at once", says Mykytyn.
SCET is offering two courses: Summer Surfing, for those who want a grounding in basic Internet use; and Web Weaving, for more experienced surfers eager to create a website. Participants will have a choice of Macs and PCs.
Most schools have the computer power to create their own website, suggests Mykytyn, and though few will want to go as far as the Glasgow school which no longer buys books, but simply downloads all the texts it needs from the Internet, there is a tremendous resource waiting to be tapped by even the most technophobic of teachers.
Summer Surfing, Tuesdays, July 14-August 11, 9.30am-12.30pm. Web Weaving, Thursdays, July 16-August 13, 9.30am-3pm.
Courses will cost Pounds 35 per session and will be held at SCET, 74 Victoria Crescent Road, Glasgow G12 9JN. Tel 0141 337 5051.