Agony Aunt

February 12, 1999

I would like to use the web for teaching purposes but don't know how to sort out the good material from the dross

Joyce Martin, Head of CTI Support Service, Oxford 01865 33

A Pick up the phone and speak to somebody at the Computers in Teaching Initiative centre for your subject. They will be able to tease out what you are looking for. If you feel reasonably confident on the web, go to a CTI centre direct or start with the CTISS site ( where we have recently added some "getting started" pages. Most centres have their resource directories on the web. Many guides are linked to reviews by teachers in the field.

You could visit a CTI centre and have demonstrations of the materials in which you are interested or the centre could visit and provide an event tailored to the department's needs. Sometimes they do joint workshops with Netskills (, which is based at the University of Newcastle. Netskills does a general workshop on using internet resources, and the CTI centre provides the subject-specific expertise.

Beforehand sit down with a learning technology support officer or a similar person in the computing service or library.

Now that funding for the Teaching and Learning Technology Support Network has ceased, the CTI centres are giving more advice on integrating electronic resources into teaching. In the future the new "generic technology centres", which may have their remit broadened, will be able to fill that gap.

Roddy McLeod, Senior engineering faculty librarian Heriot-Watt University

A Eevl ( is a gateway to 4,000 quality engineering resources and is similar to other subject gateways such as Sosig (social sciences) and Adam (art, design and architecture). We have done all the donkey work. If you wanted to identify good quality teaching materials any other way how would you do it? It would be very difficult to find the right kind of material using a search engine. The emphasis is UK but we also include the best world materials.

Emma Worsfold, Electronic librarian, Institute for Learning and Research Technology University of Bristol

A You would be well advised to try the UK subject gateways. They are not run by robots but by academic librarians. Pinakes ( WWW/ irn/pinakes/pinakes.html) is a subject launchpad to the UK national gateways, and they all catalogue teaching materials. For example, through Sosig ( you would find online tutorials, lecture notes, computer-assisted learning packages and course plans.

One resource that springs to mind is the World Lecture Hall at the University of Texas ( People send in course plans and lecture notes. On the subject gateways you can find online textbooks that have been published by academics directly and cost nothing.

There are email lists on Mailbase ( where academics can ask others what they recommend.

You can use internet resources in many ways to support teaching: as an electronic library, a virtual learning environment, a publishing medium for your own materials or a classroom aid. Don't forget the communication technologies of the internet that can facilitate online learner support, assessment and collaborative work. A useful book would be The Student's Guide to the Internet 1998/9 by Ian Winship and Alison McNab (Library Association, ISBN 1856043088).

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