Clear-Sited: The JISC Collections for Schools, Reviewed

Article excerpt

Online subscription resources

www.jcs.nen.gov.uk/

Subscriptions for schools are charged per archive site (e.g. 120 [pounds sterling] for the Education Image Gallery for an individual school) but buying groups can achieve up to 75% discount. See website for full pricing information.

The JISC Collections comprise the following archives, providing general reference and copyright-cleared images:

Keesing's World News Archive

Oxford University Press Resources: Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

Oxford Reference Online

Oxford Language Dictionaries Online (all languages)

Grove Art Online

Grove Music Online

The Guardian and Observer Digital Archive

Cengage Resources: Science Resource Center

The Times Digital Archive

Education Image Gallery

History Study Centre

NATE writers have prepared some classroom activites and lesson plans based on the resources offered by the JISC Collections. These plans are available for free at www.jcs.nen.gov.uk/teachers.

'Promoting innovation' is part of JISC's mission statement in FE, so to bring JISC Collections into the classroom you will need to be resourceful. As an inventive NQT, I should admit I was hoping that JISC Collections--this compendium of research materials, helpfully discounted for schools through funding from BECTA--would help me to magpie resources. I soon discovered JISC wasn't designed for that. Instead, by using NATE's helpful teaching guides, I realised how JISC Collections had a kudos that could encourage my pupils to develop independent study.

English teachers usually work at full capacity; our time is invaluable. So why should we guide learners towards research that could require significant management before it becomes practical? For one, it raises pupils above using the misleading, if humorous, academic vandalism of Wikipedia--only recently an article appeared stating that Belgian ministers were allocated two elks as part of parliamentary expenses.

During our two weeks of research, the majority of learners impressed me with their digital discernment. Our focus was to investigate how the term 'teenager' had been devised, employed and appropriated throughout recent history--an idea inspired from the NATE teaching packs. Along the way, we assessed how useful JISC Collections would be compared to their free 'alternatives' of Google and Wikipedia.

Providing 'breaking history', by synthesising information from political, social and economic sources, is the speciality of Keesing's World News Archive. Information can be searched by tag clouds, meaning that a search for, say fog, can be refined by 'Disaster' or 'Environment'.

Education Image Gallery isn't a replacement for the Google Image search. Instead it encourages learners to search 'picture trails' that explore interesting links between images, and to collate those images into albums. In addition it encourages learners to recognise the importance of referencing resources. While my pupils initially expressed a preference for the ease of a Google image search, they began to appreciate the picture trails function for finding pictures that they would have not found by simply typing 'teenager' into Google. …