Ever wondered why the Department for Children, Schools and Families and its agencies use YouTube for their video communications but the majority of schools have banned, or are barred from, the service? Social media company Magic Studio was also puzzled, so it commissioned a survey.

Three quarters of the teachers who responded want to use UGS (user-generated content) websites like YouTube and 42 per cent want to use social media sites like Facebook and Twitter in class. However, 57 per cent of them are prevented from using UGS sites and 68 per cent from using social media sites.

BrainPOPBrainPOP explains H1N1As "swine"/H1N1 flu continues to spread and claim more lives, BrainPOP's decision to post a free, explanatory cartoon video for primary aged children is proving a timely and useful information source.

The online video service for children and teachers has created a "Tim and Moby" video to answer the real questions sent in by children (like "What is swine flu?"). Young viewers are given a very clear explanation of swine flu as Tim answers the children's questions put to him by the worried Moby, a robot from outer space.

Rafi.kiRafi.ki the online Web 2.0 collaborative learning service which picked up a 21st Century Learning Environments Award at the Education Show in Birmingham last week, will be available as a service for primary schools, called Kidogo (Swahili for "little"), next week.

Gemin-i, the education charity which runs the service for more than 1,000 schools in more than 100 countries, has been conducting a pilot in for key stage 1 & 2 pupils in 130 primary schools in 34 countries for the past three months. "The pilot was a total success," says CEO Henry Warren, "and we are looking forward to replicating the huge growth we have enjoyed in secondary schools across the world in the primary sector.

Jack Kenny's serendipitous selections of websites for learning

Atlas of the UniverseATLAS OF THE UNIVERSE
Want to get things into perspective? Think of this. Number of large galaxies within 15 billion light years = 10 billion. Number of stars in the visible universe = 30 billion trillion (3x10²²). That puts you in your place. The pages on this site are meant to give an idea of what our universe actually looks like. There are nine main maps on the page, “each one approximately 10 times the scale of the previous one. The first map shows the nearest stars and then the other maps slowly expand out until we have reached the scale of the entire visible universe.”


Screen LuminariumLUMINARIUM
This Anthology of English Literature is split into four periods: medieval, renaissance, 17th century and restoration. The section on metaphysical poets is particularly good - just sample the material on John Donne. The Shakespeare section aims to present unique Shakespeare material unavailable elsewhere on the Internet. The Luminarium is attractive to look at and the texts are well presented. Some of the work has sound clips.


We have a numeracy strategy and a literacy strategy: why don't we have an information skills strategy? It is just as important. With the volume of information that we have around us now, everyone needs complex analytical skills. How aware are students of what is available, how to find it and how to use it? This American site defines information literacy and gives some clear guidelines on teaching the skills.


The Webby Awards, which have just been announced, are said to be the web equivalents of the Oscars. This site received a Webby award a few years ago. From the Institute of Human Origins, it presents itself as a journey through the story of human evolution. There are many good links and there are many intriguing images. In the Learning Center the lesson plans and activities are very high quality. This is an academic site and it will benefit from a fast connection. You would normally pay for information of this quality.



Screen AccessArtACCESSART
The main aim of the AccessArt web site is to provide pupils, teachers, artists, and the public with some of the ideas used by museums, galleries and arts organisations. AccessArt wants the ideas it presents to be as attractive as possible, to appeal to all ages and abilities. The user will reach the ideas through Online workshops which will be visual and interactive, rather than text based.

Jack Kenny is a freelance journalist and chair of examiners for English with Edexcel - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Professor James KakaliosProfessor James KakaliosEver had a problem with the science in sci-fi movies? Then take a look at Professor James Kakalios' excellent YouTube video, "Science of Watchmen". He uses super heroes in his physics teaching at the University of Minnesota and the students love it.

The video features in Google's new YouTube EDU service which brings together material from more than 100 universities and colleges. It's a huge range and includes valuable insight for innovation and creativity. Professor Kakalios is an expert on super heroes and is the author of The Physics of Superheroes.