Overview of C&IT tools and resources

To help find a path through this vast topic, we provide simple guidelines about the range of materials available and how they can be used. These are taken from the ASTER project; ASTER's website contains more detailed information and references about the use of C&IT in small-group teaching. Although 'C&IT' covers a great variety of material, we define two basic categories for use:

Tools - supporting particular activities. The content needs to be provided by the tutor or others.

  1. Electronic communication
  2. Virtual Learning Environments
  3. Automated assessment
  4. Presentation tools
  5. Analytical tools

Resources - these are generally selected for their content, though additional material may be required to embed them into a course.

  1. Digital resources - online and in other media
  2. Multimedia courseware


Electronic communication - supports dialogue via the use of email, discussion lists, bulletin boards, electronic white boards, and more. It can enable collaboration at a distance, with peers from other institutions, and to provide a level of tutor support when students are away from the university. CMC (Computer-mediated communication) also facilitates record keeping - staff can monitor what students are doing, and students can look back on virtual discussions for reflection and/or revision.

Virtual Learning Environments - an integrated collection of facilities, which can include email, discussion lists, course notes, assessment and course administration. VLEs support students and staff in creating, accessing, and managing information on the Web. A major advantage for tutors in using VLEs is their support for maintaining student records, and options for tutors to monitor students' progress through materials in the VLE.

Automated assessment - computers can be used to deliver questions to students automatically and, in some cases, collect and mark the answers. There is no suggestion that automated tests should replace other assessments, simply that they can be a useful, additional means of gathering information about student performance. Computer-aided assessment, particularly drilling, has been used extensively in language learning, though it has not been widely applied to other areas of the arts. Find out more from the CAA Centre.

Presentation tools - software applications that can be used to present textual or graphical material and information, for example Microsoft PowerPoint. Students can be set group assignments and present these formally in the class as an alternative to working independently on essays.

Analytical tools - tools which have been written to perform analysis on data, e.g. databases, GIS software. Students become familiar with research practices and working with data.


Digital resources - collections of text, graphics, audio, video, which are available, usually without support material and structure, in digitised format, CD or via the Web. Examples include excavation archives (available from the Archaeology Data Service for example). These can be consulted prior to or after the class, or within the class as illustration. Perhaps one of the greatest advantages of using digital resources is in providing opportunities for students to work with current and original data, and to be aware of the latest debates in their field.

Multimedia courseware - integrates text, graphics, and audio to present material to students in a structured way. Assessment, data presentation and analysis components may also be incorporated. Multimedia courseware is available for virtually all disciplines, particularly for foundation year courses. The structured, interactive approach built into most courseware encourages active and exploratory learning, and many tutorials include feedback, further supporting students in working independently. Like many disciplines, tools have been developed to support archaeology teaching (for example, through the TLTP programme and, more recently, by the Archaeology Data Service).

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Last updated: Wed Aug 21 2002

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