Better off with a book?

26th April 1996 at 01:00
PASS YOUR GCSE MATHS (OR YOUR MONEY BACK). CD-Rom for maths. For Multimedia PC. Pounds 25. Mathsoft, Knightway House, Park Street, Bagshot Surrey GU19 5AQ.

GCSE maths - pass or you get your money back. You've got to admit that it sounds attractive. But the small print reveals that, in order to claim, you have to send back all the original packaging (so don't throw away that box) within three months of failing. And there's no definition of "failure" so I assume this means failing to get even a grade G.

Those needing to "pass" at grade C or better for entry to college or similar presumably have a different definition of failing. There is surely a market for a CD-Rom which provides revision and practice using the interactive nature of this medium to enhance the student's learning. Unfortunately, this is not it.

The material on the disc is limited and dull. There are examples of exam papers, some from past examinations of the Welsh Board, but there are not enough of these. Some sections are provided with "teachers' tips" which are accessed by clicking on an icon, and some questions are "live" which means that you can substitute your own values. Some of the sections end with short multiple-choice questions.

The hypertext links seem to be confined to the section headings rather than, for example, allowing students to jump to definitions of mathematical terms used in the text. One useful feature is the ability to add your own notes, which can then be saved or printed out. A version of MathCad, which can carry out calculations, is also provided but I cannot see many of the students at whom this package is aimed having the inclination to learn how to use it.

This package provides little that a good revision textbook does not have, and in most cases students would be better off with the book, even it does not come with a money-back quarantee.

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