16th April 1999 at 01:00
If I have a golden rule about helping colleagues with computers, it is a blindingly simple one: remember you are a teacher. Just because your subject changes from science to computers, and the people change from pupils to teachers, is no reason to behave differently. But astonishingly people do.

While no English teacher ever grabbed my pen and finished my essay in front of me, countless people took over my mouse at the computer and talked through a snag I had hit. There is little need to elaborate on how good I did not feel and how empowered I did not become as a result. In a thoughtless moment, they forgot they were teachers and instead rehearsed their fast clicking solution for their benefit only.

Grabbing a mouse is one of the many "disempowering" control things to do with computers. It is the sort of control that leads schools to disable the computer floppy drives, makes printing difficult and makes using your own software impossible. The only positive benefit is that teachers buy their own machines and do what they are pretty good at anyway - teaching themselves.

Once we are in teaching mode we are left with finding technology that solves problems and extends what we do. If you are looking for products to train science teachers with, and those least likely to trip them up, the following are well worth considering.


1 Sensor kits in the LogIT range. Also Datameter 1000 (pound;259 from Griffin, tel: 01509 233344) 2 Easy Sense is good, but do not buy till you see May's new range (pound;120 from Data Harvest, tel: 01525 373666) 3 Data-logging software - Insight 2 meets with wide approval (pound;79 from Longman, tel: 01223 425558) 4 Teachers' tools - Exampro (pound;49-pound;97 (exc VAT) from Doublestruck tel: 01384 898969) 5 Oscillations and Waves - accessible simulations (pound;79.95 (pound;30 each thereafter) from Fable, tel: 0181 374 9008) 6 Simulated experiments - software list from Australia (from Newbyte, 0141 337 3355 www.newbyte.comuk) 7 The classic title The Chemistry Set has had a major facelift (pound;149.95 from New Media, tel:01491 413999) 8 Creatures is a model of a food web of foxes, rabbits and grass (pound;24.95 from Future Skill, tel:01974 282428) 9 The BBC's Science in Action website offers online experiments for ages 11-14 10 The Science Museum's pages in the National Grid for Learning Data Logging in Practice, by Roger Frost is available from ASE Booksales (pound;17.50, tel: 01707 267411) Roger Frost is a leading member of the Science Consortium, offering training for secondary science teachers. Details at

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