Relax. The first phase of the digital revolution is over. The computerisation of all kinds of information that replaced the typewriter with word processing and then the record player with compact disc, now has its sights on your VCR with a new CD-Rom standard known as DVD-Rom - Digital Video Disc.
That was the consensus at the Interactive Learning 96 conference in Edinburgh last week. "We're playing with a full digital deck now," says US academic and former Philips boss Bernie Luskin. Forget the technology, he says, just think about what you want it to do for you.
The significance of DVD-Rom is that it allows greater use of video in multimedia software. It will also probably be used in home video players, having better quality than VHS. But schools will not see it in classrooms for a few years, says market analyst Julie Schwerin of Infotech, a US IT research company.
She forecasts about 40 million DVD-Rom drives worldwide by the end of the century and says it will be the next CD standard for multimedia.
IL '96'97: 01332 881779.
Ever had trouble using CD-Roms with your computer? Not enough memory or processing power? You are not alone. An organisation in the USA is trying to solve the problem by getting software publishers to specify on their packaging what kind of computers their products will run on.
The scheme is called CD Match and it is supported worldwide. Now its backers have produced a program which analyses your computer and tells you exactly what kind of machine it is: then you can take that information to a store when you buy new software.
The program was distributed free at IL 96 on CD-Rom but you can download it from the World Wide Web. More information from the International Multimedia Association: email@example.com.
Much was made at Edinburgh of "hybrid" CD-Roms. These are CD-Roms that work like any other but that can also connect to the publisher's own World Wide Web site to provide additional information and updates. Last year there were 300 of these titles, and a further 700 to 800 titles are expected by the end of this year, indicating the massive interest in the Internet.
Anglia Multimedia already produces hybrid CD-Roms for schools, including Nelson and His Navy (it picked up IL 96's secondary CD-Rom award), Seashore Life, Vikings and Romans. (Anglia also showed an early version of a virtual reality wildlife safari CD-Rom, Virtual Safari.) It's the sort of innovation that won Anglia's Peter Stibbons IL 96's Publisher of the Year award for his longstanding commitment to education.
Anglia Multimedia: 01268 755811
The conference's award for primary CD-Rom went to Yorkshire International Thomson Multimedia (YITM) for The Journey of Thomas Blue Eagle, the evocative multimedia tale of a native American. YITM has tried to make it easier for schools to index exactly what is on their own CD-Roms with a little software program called Scrapbook. Now it is taking the concept a stage further with Odyssey. This program, which costs just under Pounds 20, can index what is on YITM CD-Roms, those from other companies and even sites on the World Wide Web, allowing schools to build up indexes of a wide range of resources for topics.
YITM: 0113 243 8283
One Web site that should be on most schools' Internet indexes is Schools Online which won IL 96's Web Site of the Year award. Schools Online is the Internet project sponsored by the Department for Trade and Industry and run by the Ultralab educational research unit. The project is due to expand into a second phase with 200 more schools.
Schools Online Web site:
http:sol.ultralab.anglia.ac.ukpagesschools.online Computer businesses are noted for the youth of their employees, and it seems that conference delegates are experiencing the same trend. IL '96 had its youngest delegate this year. David Kelnar, a 15-year-old student at Merchiston Castle School, Edinburgh, negotiated a cut-rate Pounds 90 delegate fee and found himself a sponsor to attend the three days of seminars. Shocked to find a budding Bill Gates in their midst, the organisers treated him at their banquet and gave him a special award which included a week as a guest of YITM to see how multimedia is put together.