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DigiCULT
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Info
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global project after all.The design was
exceptionally important and it took a long
time to get it right. Navigation has to be
almost intuitive we have all visited sites
where the information is great but it is so
hard to find that you end up on an easier-
to-use site even if the information is inferior.
Content is ultimately what matters.The
main ARKive site has scientifically correct
and authenticated texts, but these are writ-
ten in an inclusive way you don't have to
be a zoologist to understand them. If you
do come across a word that you don't
understand there is an integral glossary so
you don't have to go out and buy a zoo-
logical dictionary to access the information.
On Planet ARKive and ARKive
Education, the information has been aimed
at a very specific target audience, so it is
easy for them to digest and hopefully to
learn.
Games are just one part of Planet
ARKive could you describe how
the other features tie in with the
education policy?
The main aim of Planet ARKive was to
reflect the main ARKive site to provide
information and media on endangered
species, both those in Britain and world-
wide.Therefore the education policy was
centred around the repackaging of the
main site. Fact Files presents facts, figures
and media giving a range of information
on endangered species; Fun Facts was
included to try and pique users' interest in
a species so that they would go to the fact
files to find out more. Knowing that chil-
dren love the messier side of animals
blood, guts and bodily functions that's
what we look for in compiling the facts,
snippets that we know children will love.
The Creature Feature is designed to high-
At the moment Planet ARKive deals
with science and wildlife issues. As it is
aimed at a relatively young audience, we
felt it was important to deal with informa-
tion that the students would find useful for
school or their own interests. However, we
are planning another section of Planet
ARKive, which will give more general
information and will include articles on
the importance of the collection and
preservation of data in all of its forms
there. After all, we only know that these
species are endangered because someone
has bothered to go out and collect data
and then others have collated that data
over many years to give us an accurate pic-
ture of what is going on in the environ-
ment around us.
ARKive was recently recognised by
the National Grid for Learning as its
1000th site of educational excellence.
What particular educational features
do you feel stand out in terms of
facilitating learning at all ages?
For me, all aspects of the site from
design and navigation through to content
have an impact on education in its broad-
est sense. For people to use the site on a
regular basis and to gain information from
it the design has to be attractive across age,
gender and cultural background this is a
and didn't like and we took one of the
designers with us so that they could hear
what the kids thought about their work.
Watching the children use the games is a
great way of finding out where you have
gone wrong it is also very interesting to
see the differences between the way boys
and girls use the games. For instance, when
we took the first working version of
Copse and Robbers into schools, the boys
couldn't wait to get to the police station
and didn't bother to collect any clues!
Simon had to change the game so that you
could only go to the police station when
you had at least three clues.The girls, how-
ever, worked very methodically and were
keen to ensure that they had all of the
clues before heading off to the station.
We are now looking at some more for-
mal evaluation of the sites and how they
are used and hope to start conducting this
work, in conjunction with a local universi-
ty, very soon.
Throughout the ARKive Website and
publicity, parallels are drawn between
the extinction of species and the
extinction of data. Does the educa-
tional material contain references to
the importance of archiving and
preservation or does it concentrate
on wildlife issues?
More information about ARKive join-
ing The National Grid for Learning's
Internet portal can be found at:
http://www.arkive.org/news/ngfl_
public.html.
Some of the children who helped test the site at the ARKive launch
ARKiv
e
2003 - www
.arkiv
e
.org