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Biting back at the Jacobites

Jacobites The Lost Succession

Software program for Apple Macintosh computers (requires HyperCard 2.1), Pounds 28.40. Sales and Publications, University of Strathclyde, Jordanhill Campus, Glasgow G13 1PP

As part of BBC Scotland's contribution to the Jacobite anniversary, it has joined with the University of Strathclyde education department to produce software for schools on the 1745 rebellion.

The application is divided into three parts: an introduction and activity on the concept of a family tree; a database of information on the complexities of the English and Scottish royal succession and an electronic book giving information on the life of highlanders and soldiers at the time.

The computer materials are intended to promote understanding and discussion about these subjects, both around the computer and away from it, by providing users with the opportunity to type in answers, and more importantly opinions, about the Jacobite era. These can be printed out directly or saved as a text file for later work.

The materials are accurate and thought-provoking, offering a clear line of progression through the complex issues of the rebellion. However, to make the most of this software, a large amount of supplementary material would be required and some might feel that it is of only passing value without the BBC tapes and book.

The choice of HyperCard as the format is perfectly understandable in the context of Scotland, where there are many older Apple computers, but its monochrome appearance and slowness make the package less attractive than it could be.

The fundamental issue of information technology capability is only lightly addressed. For example, the database provides little more than a sequence of pre-structured cards with no opportunity for real data handling to occur. History teachers, well aware of their role in developing information technology, will regret the lack of guidance in this package to perform that function.

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