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published: April, 2002

Archives & Museum Informatics, 2002.
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0  License


children's COMPASS: The British Museum's new interactive learning site
Carolyn Howitt, The British Museum, United Kingdom

Demonstration: Demonstrations 1

'children's COMPASS' is the children's version of COMPASS, the British Museum's provision for collections information online. Like its parent site, it is rich in content, simple in design, easy to navigate and quick to load.

The children's site is mainly aimed at both formal and informal learners aged 7-11 and their teachers. Curators and education specialists at the British Museum wrote the site content, with local teachers also contributing teaching resources. The site was produced in full consultation with local schools and Education Advisors.

At the heart of children's COMPASS is a themed Search on a variety of topics leading to specially written information on around 800 objects from the Museum=s collections. Background information provides context and makes navigation easy. Fun 'print and do' activities and online games are attached to many pages. In addition to the Search facility, Tours provide specially written pre-set routes through the collections. These are produced for and by a variety of audiences, such as family, community and ethnic groups, and are on a range of popular topics.

Some Tours are written for classroom use, to cover specific areas of the UK National Curriculum. These have worksheets attached, which can be downloaded and adapted to suit different pupil abilities. There is a curriculum search to help teachers locate resources quickly and easily.

Children are encouraged to contribute to the site as much as possible. There is a monthly competition. Noticeboards display children=s work and comments, and provide links out to school websites. Children can email curators questions and choose their own 'object of the month'.

Like the main COMPASS site, children's COMPASS is fully accessible to visually impaired users, with a 'text-only' version available throughout.