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Using the Internet to visit museums;Scottish Curriculum

A new website allows teachers to browse through academic and cultural archives

SCRAN - the Scottish Cultural Resources Access Network - is an ambitious pound;15 million project that is scanning images of museum collections on to the Internet, alongside explanatory texts, and making them available to schools and colleges.

At the recent launch of a "curriculum navigator" to help them find their way around the collections, HM Inspector Stewart Robertson said "SCRAN contains a whole database of records of Scotland's culture, of use to teachers at the sharp end".

Schools can look up the SCRAN website (address http:\\www .scran.co.uk) and find their own home page and navigator with routes to the 5-14 curriculum, Standard grade, Higher grade and National Certificate. By clicking on the appropriate item, they can move, say, from 5-14 to environmental studies to transport to rail transport and find a section on the Tay Bridge Disaster, with a picture of the bridge and moving video of a steam train.

Schools looking up the database now will find folders with free thumbnail photographs and text - a number of folders are still empty, but should fill up by the end of the summer. Come August, schools will be able to subscribe to a full service that allows them to look at photographs and print them out, watch video clips and explore virtual reality sites for an annual subscription of around pound;50 for a primary and pound;100 for a secondary. A demonstration section from next month will let people try out the full range of facilities on a selection of treasures from the National Museums of Scotland.

A spin-off series of 100 CD-Roms is also being produced by SCRAN, for schools that prefer to have the material on the library shelf. The first four are available for pound;10 each. The Scottish People: 1840-1940 for secondary history is published by the Scottish Consultative Council on the Curriculum. James Hutton, the father of modern geology, for secondary students of evolution, Connecting Threads on textiles, for primary expressive arts, and Chronicle, a timeline, are available from SCRAN, Abden House, 1 Marchhall Crescent, Edinburgh EH16 5HW, tel: 0131-662 1211.

Gillian Macdonald

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