Sites for sore eyes;Hang-ups
IT might be some time before the Government publishes its definitive list of educational sites on the World Wide Web (www) which teachers should - or, possibly must - visit. But you don't have to wait. Here are some of the latest sites that have been created to meet the needs of the nation's educators as they prepare for life on the information superhighway.
Designed specifically for teachers who refuse to accept the claims made for information and communications technology in education, this site contains only two hypertext links. One leads to the government's Virtual Teacher Centre, the other to a virtual job centre.
This site offers an interim solution for teachers who deeply mistrust new technology but want to appear to be using it. It provides users with a screen which looks like any ordinary e-mail application. But click on "send" and the text is not propelled into the labyrinthine bowels of the Internet. Instead, it is printed on to reassuring sheets of Basildon Bond which can be folded and put in an envelope. The site also hosts a hypertext map which shows the exact whereabouts of every pillar box in the European Union.
Like many other forums, chat rooms and bulletin boards on the Internet, this site has been created to enable people who have nothing to say to have somewhere where they can say it. Stringent guidelines and constant monitoring ensure that all contributions are trite, vacuous andor ill-informed. It is sponsored by Ofsted.
In the "classroom of tomorrow", the pubescent schoolboy could waste valuable lesson time hunting through the Web's plethora of pornographic pages for a photograph that satisfies him. This site provides a quick and easy alternative offering an exciting selection of photographs of bodily parts which the boy can drag around the screen and thus build the fantasy figure of his choice, posing it in exactly the manner he chooses. As well as providing hours of wholesome fun, the exercise will help him to develop his spatial awareness and his basic understanding of human biology.
The site is seeking sponsorship from Lego.
An unique electronic postal service inspired by the Government's plans to give every child an e-mail address for life. The site issues you with your own mailbox which you can use to receive e-mail from anyone who wishes to contact you. There is no mechanism for reading the contents of the mailbox but this should be of little consequence as most of it will be junk mail. You know that anyone who really has something to say to you can always pick up the phone.
The creation of a National Grid for Learning will result in schools being obliged to acquire more and more expensive hardware. As they do so, there will inevitably be a proportional increase in thefts. As a consequence, teachers will need to replace stolen computers quickly and cheaply. This site offers them a constantly updated catalogue of the best bargains available at selected car-boot sales throughout Britain. Teachers might even be lucky enough to spot their own computer among the thousands on offer and, after suitable negotiation, be able to buy it back for considerably less than the advertised price.
It's often said that the boffins who are at the cutting edge of the digital revolution can easily lose touch with reality. This site proves how wrong this is by offering a layman's guide to the very latest in "blue sky" research.
One of the zanier projects claims to offer an ingenious new approach to data storage and retrieval. Investigations - still in their early stages - have encouraged boffins to believe that data can be stored on ordinary paper. This paper can then be cut into numbered sheets and bound. It seems that with a little practice it's possible to access any of the data by flicking through the sheets with the forefinger. There is no need for a mouse! And no need for a computer!
Since paper is so much cheaper than hardware, the educational implications of the research could be enormous. Indeed, it's not beyond the bounds of imagination to envisage a day when even education ministers might realise this. But don't hold your breath.
This site, set up on May 1, is designed to help teachers to revise. Not their specialist subjects but their views on new Labour. It contains information on a range of issues including Formula 1 sponsorship, off-shore tax havens, fox hunting and single parents.
It is anticipated over the coming years there will be regular and frequent additions to the list. Teachers who want to know more about New Labour's thinking on education can take advantage of a hypertext link which will take them to the Conservative Party's home page.
Stephen Byers' unexpected announcement earlier in the year that under new Labour seven times eight is fifty-eight, has left many teachers unsure about what they should be teaching their pupils. To remedy the problem, this site will contain the multiplication tables. These will be immediately updated if and when any further changes are announced.
It also contains a challenging batch of problems to help pupils with their mental arithmetic. For example: "If a text book costs pound;10, how many could be bought for the pound;330 million that the government is planning to spend on implementing its ICT policy?" http:www.success.com.uk
You'll probably find this hard to believe but there are still some teachers who suspect that the Government has over-estimated the role ICT can play in education. This site is designed to allay their fears by identifying any individuals who have undoubtedly benefited from the rush to put computers in schools. Perhaps one day the site will contain the names of pupils. But at the moment it is still under construction and has only one hypertext link. To Bill Gates's home page.
If you succeed in locating any of these sites, contact firstname.lastname@example.org