Education on the Internet
Number 6: 7th November, 2001
Education on the Internet is published by Spartacus Educational every week. The newsletter includes news, reviews of websites and articles on using ICT in the classroom. Members of the mailing list are invited to submit information for inclusion in future newsletters. In this way we hope to create a community of people involved in using the Internet in education.
Size of World Wide Web: There are now some 8.4 million web sites according to researchers at the Online Computer Library Center. Of these, only 3.1 are classified as public sites (i.e. a site that offers content that is freely accessible to the general public). The the web's growth has slowed markedly when compared to previous years. The growth from 2000 to 2001 was only 18 per cent whereas from 1999 to 2000 it was 53 per cent. The vast majority of web sites are written in English (73 per cent). Next comes German (7 per cent), Japanese (5 per cent) French (3 per cent) and Spanish (3 per cent).
Students and the Internet: Students returning to university after the summer vacation dramatically increased web traffic according to research carried out by Networks and Diameter, a division of DoubleClick. A surge of 45% in the college-based Web audience drove a 2.3% increase in total U.S. Web users to 129 million from July to August, virtually restoring the domestic audience to its pre-summer level.
Teacher Shortage in Britain: A report published by Alan Smithers and Pamela Robinson of Liverpool University for the National Union of Teachers last week suggests that the government is failing to halt the haemorrhage of staff from schools. The report points out that last year 26,000 teachers quit without pensions. Even more concerning is that recently published figures suggest that the government is spending £100 million a year on training teachers who leave the profession within three years. The Smithers-Robinson report points out that of every 100 trainee teachers, 12 did not complete their course, 29 did not go into teaching after completing their training, and 11 left within three years. The most common reasons given for leaving the profession were workload, pupil behaviour, and government initiatives.
Public Record Office: A2A: A2A is the English strand in the UK archives network and will make 8 million catalogue entries for archives dating from the twelfth to the twentieth centuries and held in national, local and specialist archives available on the Internet by March 2002. The website now contains almost 1.3 million records (catalogue entries) describing archives held in 100 record offices and other institutions across England - catalogue entries which may now be searched and browsed together via A2A's single database. Information added on 26 October includes catalogues to the papers of the British Prime Ministers Andrew Bonar Law and David Lloyd George, and to those of other political figures, provided by the 'Political Archives Consortium'; the extensive archive of original Acts of Parliament dating from 1497 to the 1990s, held at the House of Lords Record Office; and further catalogues from the 'London Archives on the Wider World' project: including sources for the history of medicine held at the Wellcome Library for the History and Understanding of Medicine, papers of military figures at the Imperial War Museum, and archives of exploration held by the Royal Geographical Society. Further finding aids relating to family and estate archives held in the South East of England have also been added by the 'From Landlord to Labourer' project, as have catalogues relating to the archives of Quarter Sessions and Petty Sessions courts and a range of other records.
Fall of Saigon Stories: A website created by Marianne Brems, a teacher of Vietnamese students at Mission College, Santa Clara, California. In the spring of 1995 Brems began collecting first-hand accounts of people who experienced the fall of Saigon to the Vietcong in April, 1975. As Marianne Brems points out in her introduction: "Many of my Vietnamese students at Mission College experienced first hand the deprivation, humiliation, and fear associated with losing their government, their way of life, and their freedom." The website includes eighteen narratives and a list of other websites that deal with the fall of Saigon.
The Probert Encyclopaedia: This website is the work of Matt Probert. The Probert Encyclopedia is a reference with over 90,000 linked entries and over 3,600 illustrations, addressing every aspect of life, from the ordinary to the obscure. The encyclopedia covers the entire spectrum of human knowledge and is aimed primarily at students, journalists and researchers. For history students there are sections on Weapons and Warfare, Ships, Aircraft, Architecture, People, and Heraldry.
Free Resources for English Teaching (FRET): This website provides free, printable resources, lesson plans and schemes of work for teachers of English language and literature at secondary level. Taking the strain out of your job so that you don't need to... um... fret! The site is organised according to the National Curriculum Orders for English covering reading, (poetry, prose, drama, media, non-fiction) writing and speaking / listening in the relevant key stages so just think of FRET as your online, Departmental filing cabinet. Contributions also welcome.
Native American Stories: A website that features stories from native American tribes, which include contemporary, humorous, tragic, and older 19th century narratives about traditional tribal lifeways. There are also traditional stories, myths, legends, tall tales and teaching stories. The website, produced by Paula Giese, also includes a collection of biographies of late 19th and early 20th century authors.
19th Century British and Irish Authors: This is a gateway site that lists all the known websites on 19th century British and Irish authors. The full list is over twenty pages long (it is constantly being updated). For regular visitors there is a 'What's New?' section. The authors are listed in chronological order. This is a good starting point for anyone carrying out research into 19th century writers.
GCSE Maths: GCSE Guide is a site developed specifically for students and for those wanting help with GCSE level exams. It has been created in a simple way, with a very wide range of content that enables quick and valuable usage. The site is wholly free to use and is frequently used by teachers, pupils, college students and professors from all around the world. The site includes a Maths section with every topic necessary for GCSE level exams, coursework advice and practise papers with answers. Finally there is also a Bookshop where carefully selected texts have been added to give that extra bit of help.
Mathematics Problem Solving Task Centre: The PSTC website, based in Victoria, Australia, provides a database of problem solving activities. The tasks are listed under Lower/Middle Primary, Upper Primary/Lower Secondary and Upper Secondary. Teachers and students submit the problems and their email address enables participants to discuss their solutions, answers, queries, etc. Other features of the site include: Problem of the Month, Past Problems of the Month, Problem Solving Strategies and Links to Other Problem Solving Sites.
Your Dictionary is the most comprehensive and authoritative portal for language and language-related products and services on the web with more than 1800 dictionaries and grammars representing some 300 different languages. 1,500,000 people a month visit Your Dictionary. The website offers access to free, on-line language resources and tapes, CDs, videos and books for off-line use. It also offers a "Linguistic Fun" page where you may write your name in a host of languages or Postmodernist scholarly articles with the click of a mouse. The game room contains 60 different kinds of word games, including special games that help the 60,000 subscribers to its amusing and insightful "Word of the Day" feature maintain that vocabulary. The library shows that the website rests on solid knowledge of languages with its entertaining articles written by the 24 member Advisory Council of Experts, professors at the leading universities around the world. There is also a section on the preservation of endangered languages and special features, such as the set of glossaries on current events featured this month.
Español LearnPlus: The Español LearnPlus is an online Spanish language course for those with little or no background in the language. The 15 lesson course teaches conversational skills, pronunciation, grammatical concepts, through drills, practice, exercises and role-plays. Español Learnplus claims that after the completion of the course the student should be able to "manipulate basic conversational skills: for example, you will be able to ask for directions, place an order in a restaurant, buy a ticket at a train station and communicate with a Spanish speaker on an elementary level".
The Great Plant Escape: Schools Online is a web site packed full of imaginative curricula and teaching ideas from the professionals at University of Illinois Extension. It's sites include The Great Plant Escape that teaches students the great mysteries of plant life. Case by case the students will check the clues, try experiments and solve problems as Bud and Sprout journey into the world of plants. Students learn the basics of composting, germination, seeds and soils.
Exploring the Environment: This website places cooperatively grouped students into problem-solving roles requiring them to conduct research and generate a proposed solution. The problem sets, which deal with environmental issues, engage students in such matters as population growth, biodiversity, land use patterns, water pollution, and global warming. Online information provides students with problem-solving guides, problem-specific background material, links to other resources via the World Wide Web (WWW), and access to NASA's database of Earth Science satellite images. Teacher materials provide information concerning specific content, cooperative learning, problem-based learning, and assessment.
Evolution: This website has been written and designed by the staff of Berkeley University in California. There is information on twenty-five scientists involved in the development of the evolution theory. These scientists are listed under four different categories: 'Founders of Natural Science', 'Great Naturalists of the 18th Century', Preludes to Evolution' and 'Natural Selection and Beyond'. The subject is also looked at through three topics: 'Systematics: The Study of Phylogeny and Classification', 'Dinosaur Discoveries: Findings and Early Interpretations' and 'Vertebrate Flight: A Case Study in Convergent Evolution'.
Earthquake Kid Zone: The Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) operates a web site that includes a quiz, crossword puzzle, word search games (for preparedness kits for cars, earthquake terms, and tsunamis), and answers to common earthquake questions for kids. The earthquake site as a whole focuses on mitigation of earthquake hazards through preparedness planning, particularly for traffic disruptions, and mitigation, particularly for housing. It offers maps identifying shaking, liquefaction, and dam failure hazards focusing on the San Francisco Bay Area. ABAG is the regional planning agency for the San Francisco Bay Area and is owned and operated by the cities and counties in that area. ABAG's Earthquake Program has received funding from the National Science Foundation, U.S. Geological Survey, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Federal Aviation Administration, California Department of Transportation, California Governor's Office of Emergency Services, and others.
Interactive Atlas: Multi Media Mapping have created an interactive atlas of Great Britain. Students find the town or village they are interested in by clicking on a map or by typing in the name or postcode. Each map has a scale indicator and you can zoom in and out as you please. Once you have arrived at your destination you can get details of the local weather and find out what the forecast is for the following day. Other features include a list of local information sites and interesting places to visit in the area.
Infoplease: World Statistics: Information Please has been producing almanac publications and reference databases in the United States for over fifty years. This information has now been placed on the Internet. Infoplease World Statistics enables students to compare data from different countries. The website provide information on population, unemployment, marriage, divorce, abortion, infant mortality, life expectancy, birth-rate, ownership of household appliances, GDP, exchange-rates and contraceptive use. Also sections on Worldwide Armed Conflicts and Counties with Nuclear Weapons Capability.
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