Learning with Auntie

18th May 2001 at 01:00
Eleri Wyn Lewis, head of education for BBC Wales, on plans for a digital curriculum for the multimedia age.

BBC Wales has a bold ambition - to revolutionise teaching and the way children learn. We want to make a critical contribution to raising the standards of education.

Imagine a teacher with a class of eager children using a data-projector linked to a computer. At their fingertips on an electronic whiteboard is access to a wealth of text, games, graphics, stills, animation, print-offs and video of the highest quality. All work interactively, and are tailored to support their lessons and the curriculum in Wales. This is a tool that offers extraordinary learning experiences for pupils.

Imagine GCSE students working their way through a variety of learning modules and activities specified by an examination board. Additional learning outside the classroom is supported by the multimedia tools that can open up difficult aspects of the course and provide links to sites across the world.

Imagine a teacher using a laptop computer at the desk. The teacher is guiding individual pupils through a learning journey, stopping, starting, drawing on a wider archive as necessary and setting the work to suit the level of ability. The teacher can also choose the approach to learning - whether auditory, kinaesthetic or visual - that suits each pupil.

The BBC's aspiration is to offer high-quality integrated learning resources to turn this vision into reality. This is what we call the "digital curriculum" and this is how we propose to support the classroom of the future in Wales. Using a variety of delivery platforms including broadband, PCs and digital television, people will be able t learn anywhere, anytime. Digital is not just about television and the proliferation of hundreds of channels. The really significant aspect of the digital revolution is interactivity. What will it mean for schools, teachers and pupils in Wales?

A recent pilot of BBC interactive materials stimulated the following responses. From a teacher: "No longer is there a great hunt for resources or text or poems or the need to create a game. It is all there at your fingertips, it is so exciting." From a pupil: "This makes learning much easier. It avoids the embarrassment of asking about something you don't understand in the classroom."

The BBC is planning to develop a bank of interactive lesson-support packages that are tailor-made for our own national curriculum - in both Welsh and English. We aim to help non-Welsh-speaking parents whose children are attending Welsh-medium schools. A virtual resource centre is also being set up, and a curriculum and holiday club will allow pupils to extend their learning online.

We applaud the National Assembly for Wales for focusing on the vital role ICT has to play in our lives. The potential of the digital curriculum will only be fully unlocked when we have secured the widest possible access to the technical infrastructure and equipped our schools and colleges adequately.

At the BBC our expertise is in creating content. We look forward to working with other partners to place that content at the disposal of all those who can learn from it.

Eleri Wyn Lewis is the head of education for BBC Wales. She and Menna Richards will be giving the conference's keynote lecture on "The Digital Curriculum in Wales" at 9.30am on Friday, May 25

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