My best and worst IT lessons #4: Murder Mystery

My best and worst IT lessons #4: Murder Mystery

Looking for clues. Picture from CC0

Some men love fast cars. Others love women. Me? I love spreadsheets and databases. But when it comes to teaching such things, how can you make them interesting? I think this applies particularly to databases. Flat file databases are, it seems to me, inherently boring. Relational databases are much more interesting. Perhaps because they are more useful, though I suspect the real reason is that they are so much more complicated.

Like most teachers I imagine, I introduced flat file databases before tackling relational ones, but after teaching the basics, and how to do simple and complex searches, I thought I'd try an experiment.

  • The database had to be very large, because I didn't want the pupils to be able to find data simply by looking through the records or by sorting them.
  • The searches had to have a real purpose, or at least real in the sense that they could be searches that someone would carry out "in real life".
  • The activity had to be fun.

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Terry Freedman is an independent educational ICT consultant with over 35 years of experience in education. He publishes the ICT in Education website and the newsletter “Digital Education."