Cook and learn

Out and About 2

Literacy CD-Rom for working with adults with disabilities

Single user pound;59

SEMERC

Granada Learning Ltd

Granada Television

Quay Street

Manchester

M60 9EA

www.semerc.com

tel.: 0161 827 2927

fax: 0161 827 2966

Fitness for purpose ****

Ease of use ****

Features ****

Deisgn ****

Value for money ****

I confidently predict that Out and About 2: Around the Home will be a big seller for SEMERC. Like its predecessor, it is designed to help adults with learning disabilities develop lifeskills. This time it centres on cookery and household chores and features Ainsley Harriott and Lesley Walters using the Ready Steady Cook formula to help adults with learning disabilities make a range of dishes such as sausage and bean casserole and apple and blackberry crumble.

While this is an excellent resource and will score highly on any assessment, I don't think it's as good as Out and About 1. It's more flashy but not as sound on the educational side. The opening video sequence is a good illustration of this. I like the real-world approach of having a picture of a video remote with a flashing light to show where the play button is. It's also a great idea to have well known TV personalities showing easy ways to make good food. I opted for chicken korma and learned - "chicken thighs are cheaper than breast", "use boil-in - the-bag rice". This is sensible and practical but the clip seemed very long and it was hard to take in all the information. There is a real danger that this encourages passive viewing. It needs to be broken up and summarised in some way.

The list of ingredients on screen was quite hard to read as the print is small. There were also some real anomalies.. Lesley talked about the danger of food poisoning and said, "Give the board a good scrub to get it really clean." Then she hoofed it into the sink and left it! Given that some of the intended audience are people who do not learn easily from the spoken word, it might have been nice if she had practised what she preached.

The video is followed by six types of activities. Shelf life looks at the sell-by date. This is useful, but having clicked on chicken korma I did expect that the ingredients would bear some resemblance to the dish so I was surprised to be presented with beef, pork pie, pate and cream. Put in Order links back to the video and asks the user to put four steps in the cooking process in the right order. This has good support: first you try to remember what you saw; next you get picture clues, then the text is read out to you and finally it shows you the answer. However, the design is disconcerting here. As you drag the cards, they do not stay put so you think your choice has been rejected. Closer inspection reveals that the text has changed on the card. This is quite subtle, especially for someone who is not a good reader.

The Information Search is excellent. You have a page of small ads from a newspaper and an on-screen mobile phone. Listen to the instructions: "It's time to get your hair cut"; "find the advert"; "tap in the number"; "listen to the answerphone message". This would be particularly good with a touch-screen.

There's a Wordsearch area where kitchen vocabulary is presented horizontally and vertically in a 10x10 grid and a Communications activity where the user writes letters or sends directions using an on-screen word processor with word lists for extra support. The Shopping List is a good idea which is very tricky in practice. You are given a list of five ingredients to "buy". You find the items and add the cost up on the calculator. The list of goods is in fact in alphabetical order but it's not obvious: bulb of garlic is under B which is particularly confusing when the recipe asks for two cloves of garlic; large onion is under L for large. This is not how the alphabet is used in real life!

Yes, I have a lot of niggles but Out and About 2 is still an exceptionally good product and should be part of the core library for anyone who is serious about working with adults with learning disabilities.

Sally McKeown

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