Think.com for yourself and learn new skills

19th September 2003 at 01:00
I've got a sticky from New Zealand!" "I've got 26 votes on my Fame Academy page!" The classroom banter comes from pupils involved in Think.com, writes Margaret Cassidy, a curriculum development officer with Stirling's children's services.

Think.com is a secure online environment where children are encouraged to learn the skills of website design, e-mail messaging, brainstorming, copying an image from the Internet and much more but all within a fun context.

In my 20 years of teaching, I have never seen children so motivated. When, as a teacher at Cornton Primary in Stirling, I introduced P7s to Think.com, I demonstrated some of the basic skills, such as inserting articles, saving images and creating an online debate, initially to four children. Within a week, all the children in the class had been peer-tutored, had logged on to their own site and the "stickies" - electronic Post-it messages - were flying.

After the ever-popular "stickies", website design ranks a close second.

Children have the opportunity to create up to 10 pages within their site.

This is where their imagination comes to the fore. Every website I have visited demonstrates the designer's personality. I have visited sites devoted to Linkin Park, Beyblades and even Winnie the Pooh.

Children, whose paths might not otherwise cross, soon realise that in order to learn new skills they need the help of others. As teachers are aware, children will find their niche. For many, Think.com allows them to demonstrate their skills in website design. They become sought-after group members as they can pass on their expertise to others.

The facility of being able to access all sites within Think.com - both pupils' and teachers' - allows children to copy displayed images. Children are encouraged to seek permission from the site owner and this may start up a chain of "Stickies". I know of one chain that involves children in Scotland communicating with pupils in the United States, New Zealand, Canada and Australia.

Think.com is security conscious. Only pupils or teachers can become members and each user is given a unique username and password to access the site.

Having been seconded as a curriculum development officer with an information and communications technology remit, it is now part of my role to visit primary schools in the Stirling area and introduce pupils to Think.com. On every occasion, the reaction is the same: sheer enjoyment.

My regret is that Think.com did not exist when I started teaching. Mind you, neither did computers.

SETT

Margaret Cassidy will look at Think.com Through Different Eyes on Thursday at 1.45pm

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