Please come to the diary room

28th September 2007 at 01:00
A "diary room" similar to that used on Channel 4's Big Brother is helping children open up and express themselves in the classroom.

The Yellow Box is a portable diary room, including a laptop and a camera inside a toolkit-style box, which has been used in about 12 Scottish classrooms.

Gillian Graham, who recently became depute head at Crookfur Primary in Newton Mearns, was impressed with the impact of the Yellow Box when she used it in the classroom for health promotion work while she was at St Cadoc's Primary in Glasgow.

It was easy to use she got it on a Monday, learned how to work it that night, and by Tuesday afternoon the pupils had used it themselves and were looking at the results.

The box was used by the children to look back on how their work, involving animation, had gone.

Pupils were enthusiastic about being able to record their own views and play them back almost immediately. One pupil said: "You can get nervous talking in front of people. If you are doing it in front of the booth, it's not so bad because it's not a person."

Staff found that the box encouraged self-evaluation and that children expressed their views independently. It was also seen to support Assessment is for Learning.

The Yellow Box works well with youngsters who are growing up well acquainted with what has become known as "user-gene- rated content".

UGC, as it is most frequently referred to, is best known through websites such as YouTube and MySpace, which rely on the public for their content.

The project was presented at the Scottish Learning Festival last week, where a group of teenage girls were among those to be impressed in the audience.

They felt the Yellow Box would work well in many school situations, as pupils are often uncomfortable talking directly to teachers.

"If a child is bullied, it might be easier to talk to than a teacher," said one girl. "If you're criticising (teachers), it might be easier to say it to a computer," said another.

Officially, the project is called Education and Monitoring for Innovative Teachers, but the yellow box in question an almost indestructible container of toughened plastic has firmly embedded itself into the minds of those who use it. Hence it is usually referred to as the Yellow Box.

The idea was developed by Glasgow-based design company 55 degrees before the first series of Big Brother in 2000 ingrained the idea of the diary room into the public consciousness.

The Yellow Box project only started in schools in 2006, as part of the Partners in Learning project between the Scottish Qualifications Authority and Learning and Teaching Scotland, which promotes use of ICT in learning and teaching.

Schools were asked to submit bids for grants that would allow them to use the Yellow Box for work in various topics. Successful bids cover subjects including health promotion, geography and music.

The Yellow Box should become commercially available to schools next year, although it is not yet known how much it will cost. lwww.55degrees.co.uksolutions learningindex.php

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