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Innovative geographers lead the way

EUROPEAN WEATHER KENYA CD-Roms for Windows Multimedia PCs, Pounds 79 each including site licence. Matrix Educational CD-Rom Design, 10 Hey Street, Bradford BD7 1DQ.

Let's be honest, and admit that geographers are natural innovators. This propensity to take on new ideas, and find practical curricular applications for new techniques, concepts, and gadgets, has meant a rapid development of CD-Roms for geography.

While linguists, mathematicians and historians may all be taking their tentative first steps down the aisle, the honeymoon is already over for geographical CD-Roms. Thus European Weather and Kenya, targeted primarily at upper secondary, must be judged critically as curriculum tools.

The weather is a natural subject for CD-Rom treatment. In European Weather the cloud recognition images - taken from a collection of more than 300 photographs - are strong. Animated sequences of the pattern of offshore and onshore breezes, also work well.

The author clearly understands how students will use CD-Rom in relation to other means of study. The printable worksheets are useful and add an extra dimension to the topic's presentation. The accompanying blurb states that geography students will feel the benefit, as will pilots, gardeners, anglers and "anybody else who has an interest in understanding our weather".

Herein lies the only difficulty. In trying to reach as wide an audience as possible, andcovering a broad subject canvas, the target user is hard to define.

Kenya demonstrate similar advantages to European Weather. The maps are a little crude, although the layering technique is great in helping students understand the concept of thematic mapping. But the menu choices in some key areas are a little difficult to follow. These minor problems do not detract from an otherwise excellent resource.

There is sometimes a fear with simple, menu-driven CD-Roms that you are missing something. Any child using a keyboard is looking for the "cheats" that will reveal more than originally meets the eye.

There are no cheats with these, but they are the icebergs of their genre - most of the information lies just beneath the surface. In all respects these are quality publications, matching the demands of the national curriculum from a company which promises a growing list of titles.

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