This latest edition of the World Development Database contains data on 149 countries (20 more than previously) covering a variety of years, but mainly 1970 and 1992. It also includes environmental data for the first time. The database single pack contains a user handbook, the World Development Data Book (1995), the Environmental Data Book (1993), and a disc of datafiles. The site licence pack contains all of the above with additional data books and a copiable disc.
In all, the data covers 24 social, economic and environmental indicators which can be accessed as a whole or selectively with the files on economic, environmental and health indicators. A text file of background information allows pupils to explore and carry out procedures such as sorting, editing, filtering, querying and reporting.
The user handbook aims to provide a link between the other resources in the pack, and contains a range of copiable key stage 3 and 4 geography and mathematics worksheets. However, the data could also provide a useful and flexible resource for older pupils.
The data is provided in CSV, SYLK and KEYPLUS formats so that it can be used with a range of data-handling applications. It is easily installed on a network in a shared drive so it can be accessed by everyone. It would be sensible to convert the data to whichever format the pupils use, so it loads up in the format they are familiar with.
Some of the suggested exercises require graphs to be drawn and subsets of data selected from the whole. These tasks have implications for software and hardware choices - for example, although the Access Graph Wizard program will run on 8 meg machines it is much slower to produce results than Excel on the same machine.
The answers to some of the suggested exercises could be found simply by scrolling through the data, but to get most benefit pupils would need to know how to use relevant functions, such as MAX and AVERAGE, and some database techniques such as sorting and extracting in Excel. The work would be easier in Excel 5 because of its filter tool. In Access, pupils would be able to use the query method to find answers to the exercises. But Access would be preferable to Excel 4 since querying the data is easier. If you have 8 meg machines Excel 4 could be used to create the graphs and Access used for the querying work.
Although the price is rather high for a databasespreadsheet application, this is an extremely good resource which allows widespread use in geography and a number of other subjects.