Launched in January this year, Homeworkhigh is the result of a collaboration between Channel 4 and London-based digital media specialists, Cimex Media. Channel 4 first started discussions with Cimex two years ago about how to produce a site where children aged nine to 16 could ask questions about their homework online and receive live answers from a panel of teachers.
But it was not until June 1999 that Cimex began building the site. In the run-up to the launch there were six people working on the project, although this has since been scaled down to three. According to Ian Haynes, strategic partner at Cimex, everything happened on time and to budget, despite "a few nervous breakdowns en route".
Apart from the live panel of teachers, a feature of Homeworkhigh that has attracted a lot of attention is the use of an online drawing board. This enables the teachers to give pictorial answers to questions, by drawing a graph or diagram, for example.
"The pen has a radio transmitter in it that is activated when the user presses the pen down," explains Whitaker. "The paper [a conventional A4 pad] sits in a plastic tray which has a receiver, serial port into the PC and various buttons allowing the user to create a new page and upload an existing one. Using a transmitter and receiver, the system records all of the user's pen strokes. The idea is that you can scribble quickly. It hasn't been used in this way in the UK yet - it came from the States just before we started development on the site."
Homework has never been so much fun.