Tony Parfitt suggests ways of using the web to explore different faiths
Finding useful inform-ation for RE on the Internet may seem like looking for the proverbial "needle in a haystack" but it can be done. A good start is www.theresite.org.uk In the "all re" section you will find links from more than 2,000 key words based on the QCASCAA model syllabuses and glossary of terms to about 250 sites which have been checked. You can search by any combination of key word, faith or key stage. For example key in "Pentecost" and you get three sites - each with a brief description; if you're planning work on "Puja" then nine sites are listed, including accounts of the Arti ceremony, Hindu artefacts including murtis and a tour of a Hindu temple.
Other sections list the best of CD-Roms, videos and software for RE, the RE material on the government and agency sites are linked, as is an extensive directory of more than 150 RE-related organisations with information about them. In addition to "virtual tours" of places of worship, there's a map with details of places able to host a visit. For example, if you wanted to plan a visit to Buckfast Abbey in Devon the link is made to www.buckfast.org.uk or check the facilities at York Minster by being linked to www.yorkminster.org First level searching is already done for you.
The site is popular and easy to use, proving that there is plenty of interest in making use of the Internet in RE when material is presented in the right way.
Other sites featured include www.re-xs.ucsm.ac.uk with some very good material much of it written by practising teachers.
Woodford County High School, Redbridge, has a site with material which many teachers will be glad to share including in-service resources and "rites of passage" work at www.users.globalnet.co.ukemphyrbarmitzvah Good work done by younger children can be found at Frenchwood Primary School's site home.clara.netlancasterFrenchwoodstartpage.htm Ferrybridge Infant School's work on The Qur'an at www.gowild.org.ukresourcescurriculumREQuranindex.html and Douglas Primary School Islamic page at www.innotts.co.ukdouglaspschoolislamicmuslim.htm Saint Thomas CE Junior School, Featherstone investigated the festival of Hanukkah Their work can be seen at www.gowild.org.ukresourcescurriculumREHanukindex.htm GoWILD is Wakefield LEA's Web Resources site. www.gowild.org.uk is well worth a look to see what exciting work teachers do when they get together across school boundaries.
Another type of useful site is BBC Education's GCSE Bite Size Revision material. Follow the links to RE from www.bbc.co.ukeducationhome Culham College Insitute's site at www.culham.ac.uk includes interesting curriculum materials illustrating how Internet and broadcast resources can be used to design work on RE topics.
Work on areas of topical interest will always be found, for example reports about the Kosovo crisis can be found at: www.christian-aid.org.uk www.tearfund.org www.cafod.org.uk ORTnet at www.ort.org.ortnet.htm is a valuable multimedia resource on Jewish faith and life. Daily Hukamnama from the Golden temple at Amritsar (www.sikhnet.comhukam) makes an exciting visit for all ages and effectively uses the immediacy of the Internet.
BuddhaNet, the Buddhist Information Network, (www.buddhanet.net) provides coverage of all aspects of that faith. A virtual pilgrimage to the Holy Land at www.jesus2000.com is an attractive multimedia site but the commercialism won't be to everyone's liking. St Margaret's Church, Colchester (www.stmargcol.org.uk) has a site designed with school visitors in mind and is worth visiting. Faith communities are also well represented, for example Taize at www.taize.fr and Iona at www.iona.org.uk Tony Parfitt is senior projects associate at Culham College Institute.