Grid locks on to the worry-free web

16th June 2000 at 01:00
The National Grid for Learning has had a profound impact on business links as companies switch their educational resources to the web. John May, director of education at Business in the Community, is delighted at what he sees as a revolution in class teaching. "Resources on the web have really taken off. It's enabled teaching materials to be much more interactive than ever before. The bright companies realise that information and communications technology (ICT) is an enabler - not just a separate subject."

Two years ago, the few company educational websites there were concentrated on teachers' notes that could be downloaded and printed off as worksheets. Now, with flat rate unlimited internet access, whole classes are learning online, navigating their way around educational websites.

Government grants to get schools wired up, as well as the launch of low-cost unlimited internet access during school hours from BT and Cable and Wireless, have been a major boost to online learning.

At primary schools up and down the country, children learn web browsing skills nd how to use a search engine intelligently while, in subject areas like geography and history, there is a vast range of internet resources which children can access via educational "walled garden" portals - special sites where harmful adult material is screened out.

May says such sites have become more sophisticated and offer genuine variety. "In the early days, walled gardens could be quite quirky. If children typed in "Blue Peter", for example, it wouldn't let them see the site. The word "blue" gave them a problem. Those days are long gone."

RM's internet browser Eduweb is a good example of ring-fenced educational resources on the internet - many of which are provided by companies. Cadbury's website, for example, enables pupils to research life in Victorian times. But May, a former headteacher, also believes children can benefit from exposure to business websites.

He explains: "In maths, I have seen schools using the web to help children plan fictitious holidays, calculating dates, journey times and costs using a real travel agent's website. "

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