AS Guru

22nd December 2000 at 00:00
Coming up with a snappy and meaningful domain name for a website is turning into something of a Holy Grail as many of the most memorable names have already been claimed. But BBC Online has managed to be both pithy and insightful with its latest study site - AS Guru.

AS Guru is a multi-faceted support resource that encompasses the web, print and television. Although there are plans to expand the site, English, maths, biology and general studies are the four subjects covered so far.

The website follows the AS-level's modular approach and has 2,750 pages of subject information and 6,500 help and advice files, all written by teachers. It is colourful without giving you a headache and it's a breeze to navigate and track down relevant areas within each subject. Download times are acceptable and fancy animations are kept to a minimum, allowing older PCs to keep up.

As well as providing material for the four most popular AS subjects, AS Guru provides an extremely useful 18-page study skills section. As well as explaining the commitment required in the step up from GCSEs to AS, it looks at a number of areas including effective time management, choosing the right study methods, creating your own study materials and how to develop research skills. Even if you ignore the rest of the site, it's well worth directing students to this section so that they are under no illusions about what is required and can work out how to plan thei new study regime. As well using the dedicated study skills section, students will be able to access this kind of advice within the individual subject zones.

Another AS Guru winner is likely to be the online testing facility. The technology on the site will allow students to track their progress and modify their study accordingly. AS Guru follows on from the BBC's other successful education site - the revision-centred Bitesize. But, unlike Bitesize, the site aims to support students right through the course, says Derek Butler, the BBC's commissioning executive for secondary education. "It's not just a revision resource," he says. "It is the first resource to enable that transition from GCSE to A-level."

Although the website is the most high-profile component of AS Guru, it is intended for use as a whole package that includes the television programmes and printed materials which will be available from January. It sounds as if the BBC has all the bases covered, but Butler says it is providing a complementary rather than complete service. "This resources does not provide a complete teaching package but it does allow students to work independently."

Yolanda Brooks

Find AS Guru at educationasguru. The timetables for the AS Guru television programmes are available on the site and AS Guru books will be available from January, either by calling 01937 541 001 or by visiting the BBC's online shop

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