Page last updated at 15:24 GMT, Friday, 3 December 2010

Virtual College shares its knowledge!

Callum shows Theresa how to use the computer for research
Callum and Theresa researched Lewis's department store

Students from the Virtual College in Birmingham sound like they should be experts in getting online - and so it proved as they attended their first BBC School Report First Click workshop with their parents and grandparents!

Together with their relatives, students Chloe, 15, Callum, 16, Fran, 15, and Fiona, 14, braved the snow to travel to BBC Birmingham to learn more about the BBC's Domesday Project and how they could use it in their School Report work.

The Domesday Project was a BBC initiative from the mid-1980s, with schoolchildren and volunteers across the country assigned UK grid references to report on with photos and articles.

This is all new to me, and I've enjoyed it very much
Mary, Fran's grandmother

Nearly 25 years on, the School Reporters from the Virtual College plan to study this information and document how their region has changed, using the memories of older relatives and friends as one of their sources.

In return they will show their parents and grandparents how to search for information, photos and maps on the internet to support their stories.

The workshop in Birmingham began with a brainstorming session, where the group decided to concentrate on changes to landmarks in central Birmingham.

Fiona (left) and her mum Donna with their brainstorm notes
Fiona (left) and her mum Donna will study Birmingham's markets

Callum, working with Fran's mum Theresa, looked at Lewis's department store, which had opened in 1885 and for many years had been Birmingham's largest shop.

Callum shared his computer expertise with Theresa showing her how to research the history of the store using the internet. They found a lovely photo of Lewis's in it's heyday which they shared with the group.

Fiona and her mum Donna decided to investigate the changes to the markets in Birmingham. Donna said it had been "great interacting with everyone in the workshop", and that she and Fiona were looking forward to carrying out more research together using the computer when they got home.

Chloe and Debbie, Callum's mum, had a great chat about how the road layout was different when Debbie moved to the west Midlands in 1988, and Chloe enjoyed hearing about the history of her hometown.

Fran and her grandmother Mary discussed the changes to the city centre, and Mary reminisced about moving to Birmingham in 1957. "It was a lot quieter here 53 years ago," she said.

Chloe, Debbie, Fran and Mary (L-R) chatting in the workshop
Chloe, Debbie and Fran (L-R) listening to Mary

Fran said she had really enjoyed learning new things from her Gran. Mary, who is in her 70s and delighted everyone with her stories, said: "This is all new to me, and I've enjoyed it very much." Callum added "Mary is a legend!"

The workshop ended with the group feeling very excited about their plans and looking forward to meeting in January to work together again.

In the meantime the students have pledged to keep asking older relatives for stories about changes in Birmingham, and their families have vowed to keep clicking on the internet!


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