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Key Skills Trainer - Learning via Gumshoe Work

Some top-secret designs have been stolen from a fictitious mobile phone manufacturing company called Symtel. The guilty party is one of 25 employees working in the company - all featured on a new educational web site aimed at students. The task is to solve the crime by navigating through the site and “interrogating” suspects. But on the way, a number of key skills related tasks have to be completed.

The Key Skills Trainer is a UK learning resource, produced by the key skills support program for schools and colleges at the Learning and Skills Development Agency (LSDA) and designed by BTL E-Learning.

It includes three main sections:
(1) ÎCheck your skillsÌ, which enables the student to check which skills they are good at and which ones they need to improve;
(2) ÎLearnÌ, which takes the student through a learning unit covering the subject area, containing information, simulations and interactions; and
(3) ÎApply your skills: the Symtel filesÌ, which invites them to play the role of private detective.

On this part of the site students can “travel” around the office building, enter rooms and “talk” to characters, look into secret documents on computers and collect clues. Sixteen tasks have to be completed - all related to the key skills of communication and math. Working undercover, the evidence can be pieced together to solve the crime. Could the culprit be receptionist Saffron McGee, laboratory technician Harbhajan Pal, designer Youmika Sung, sales and marketing executive Bob Collins, or any of the company employees?

The Key Skills Trainer (which went live on January 29 2004) has been designed to help students in schools, colleges or learning in the workplace to check, learn and apply key skills. The site took nearly 18 months to develop and has over 400 notional learning hours. Materials for the site have been developed by National Extension College (NEC), one of the UK’s leading open and distance learning colleges.