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A Pause in the Onward March

9th September 1998

The trouble with the steep learning curve associated with this computer malarky is that what you were able to do a fortnight ago starts to look pretty hokey, well, crap, very quickly. As skills increase you realise that you could have done all that much better if only you'd known then what you've learnt since. Such is the case with the web page which has ground to a halt of dismay after a promising fortnight of effort.

I did have a rather grand idea of a complete redsign with a fantastically lovely set of navigatable graphics showing the viewer from one clearly laid out page to the next. What has actually happened is that I have boggled myself in meta tags and image maps to the extent that I have given up for the moment. To make it as good as I want it to be I need to go back and redo my redo.

Which is silly.

I shall think about it over the weekend and try to come up with a plan. It would be nice if this could all be a more organic growing whole but I have to address the core structure to get that right to grow everything else on. Not to mention figure out how to cut down the key board and fiddle time.

I'm trying to learn how to do this partly because I am interested in the idea of web pages for schools which raises some interesting questions about how you can teach this web stuff. I think kids should get the chance to make things for this but how you develop a quick and robust way to quickly put things together with children I don't know as yet.

At school I am starting to teach some ICT this year which is good fun. I've taught 75 Y5s how to log on and log off our network this first week back. I'm going to have an old Pentium in my art room too soon. I will perhaps try to make a few pages on that to see if I can raise any interest amongst the children.

I have been asking the children how many of them have computers at home. There seem to be a lot, about 50% by a show of hands. Whether this includes Amstrads and Playstations I'm not sure. When I ask how many have a dial-up connection the hands dwindle to about one or two per class.

This is supposed to be the year of the Grid for Learning. It should be launched this Autumn and Tim, school ICT co-ordinator, and I are doing our best to be a part of it. This should make it an interesting year school computer wise and I'll try to log it here (if anyone is interested which is another part of it all, isn't it).

"We are at a watershed now. We are in the middle of a debate about whether the future will be ICT (Information Communication Technology) or IDT (Information Dissemination Technology). There is a tension between children as communicators and producers and children as consumers and recievers. If it is the latter, we end up with a nation of cyber couch potatoes. We will have lost."

Stehen Heppell
Anglia Poytechnic University Ultralab
quoted in the TES Online Education
July 10 1998.

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