Websites geared for schools
Virtual Teacher Centre: The British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (BECTA) is responsible for the Virtual Teacher Centre, part of the National Grid for Learning. Still in prototype form, it is based around five "rooms": reception, library, meeting room, classroom resources and professional development. The VTC promises a much wider range of material when the Grid is officially launched.
www.vtc.ngfl.gov.uk The Northern Ireland Network for Education (Nine): Just launched, this is probably the most distinguished and useful website of its type. Simple, unpretentious, easy to use and will undoubtedly be extremely useful to all schools, not just those in Northern Ireland. Structured through subjects and key stages, it has a great deal of locally produced content. www.nine.org.uk Scottish Virtual Teacher Centre: This will cater for Scottish teachers. Run by the Scottish Council for Educational Technology, it is in embryonic form. The full service will be launched in November.
www.svtc.scet.org.uk Argosphere: An excellent interactive primary site. Not as weighty as some but very generous with original software. Argo also offers Internet access for Acorn, PC and Macs.
www.argosphere.net; tel 0500 585586 BBC: The BBC is probably the richest and most stimulating. It ran the National Education Multimedia Awards inconjunction with BECTA, and the results and samples are on the site. Those pages, from BECTA, are a good resource for schools wishing to experimentwith multimedia web authoring. Thecurriculum areas are first class.
www.bbc.co.ukeducationschools Channel 4: Most of the material here is support material for the network's educational programmes. There is a teacher forum, but it is not well supported. The combination of transmitted video programmes and subject notes is very powerful. The science materials and on-line experiments are particularly good.
www.schools.channel4.com Subscription sites
BT Campus World: The qualities of this service sometimes go unrecognised. BT is using the Internet as an interactive, responsive medium, rather than as an encyclopedia or CD-Rom. CampusWorld is now primarily a content service and can be used by anyone. It contains thousands of pages of resources, activities, projects and discussion groups designed specifically to support the UK curricula and has a teacher-friendly feel. Prices for single user are Pounds 10 per month content only, Pounds 15 per month content and access to 3,000-plus websites approved for educational value, and Pounds 17.50 per month for content and Internet access.
www.campus.bt.comcampusworld; tel 01847 890027 Living Library: A subscription to this valuable reference site was put on every laptop given to teachers in the recent government project. This is a collection of resources designed for UK education. For instance, the partnership between RM and the National Monuments Archive has resulted in pupils accessing previously unseen, valuable and relevant images. Single user Pounds 99 a year. Secondary unlimited Pounds 1,299.
www.livlib.eduweb.co.uk; tel 01235 826868 Anglia Multimedia: Like the BT site, a great deal of curriculum content has been created. Schools should recognise that sites like this are the way to quality resources. They can also get the content on CD-Rom free every term. Prices from 22p a day for a small primary to Pounds 1.37 a day for a large secondary.
www.angliainteractive.com; tel 01268 755811