Cuban wildlifeCuban wildlife (pic Cuban Tourist Board)Twelve years ago World Info Zone (WIZ) was a school project designed to explore the UK’s history and its links to other cultures. Now, with its international perspective for education, it is an invaluable, interactive resource schools and colleges can use to show students how, for worse or better, all the world is connected.

World Info Zone was a finalist in the lifelong and informal learning category of the 2008 Stockholm Challenge Award for the best European ICT projects for social and economical development, and is the brainchild of former London ICT teacher Teresa Read. "The WIZ information emphasises the value of cultural diversity," she says. "Knowing about our own history and culture, and how it links with other countries and groups within countries, is more and more essential as our world shrinks with the use of modern transport and communications".

Information sharing is a key factor in the project. And with assistance and contributions from local people, teachers, students and government organsations, most of it collected using email and via video conferencing, it is a worthy introduction to the 200 countries that are featured. Sifting through its wide range of information and photographs about topics that include the geography, environment, history, health, citizenship, and languages of each country, teachers and students will find it difficult to run out of project ideas.

For example they can check out Cuba’s native reptiles (crocodiles, chameleons and iguanas), find out who is in and who is out of the European Union, trace the UK’s links (and those of France and Portugal) to the African slave trade and colonisation. The feature on "African Origins", which explores our common ancestry, provides food for thought that, according to Teresa Read, is yet another reason for looking beyond our islands.

In addition to emphasising the value of cultural diversity, WIZ's Newslink feature provides daily news updates from all the countries and quizzes relating to information on the site will test students' powers of recall.

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Picture (above) courtesy of Cuba Tourist Board in the UK