Disaster on a disk;Secondary;Reviews;Geography;Books;Features amp; Arts

19th November 1999 at 00:00
IN THE EYE OF THE STORM. Multimedia resources on cyclones in the Bay of Bengal. pound;15 inc p+p. ActionAid, Chataway House, Leach Road, Chard, Somerset TA20 1FR.

With newspapers full of dramatic scenes of human and environmental devastation in India's Orissa State, ActionAid's CD-Rom on the impact of cyclones on an island off the coast of Bangladesh offers secondary school geographers a valuable opportunity to set this kind of disaster in a balanced context. The disk is genuinely multimedia, combining an audio "radio broadcast" with pictures, captions, interviews, video clips, maps, satellite images and other information in CD-Rom and computer format, enabling pupils to edit, research and print.

The video clips go beyond the narrow impact of the cyclone to include scenes of local community activity and more positive images of development.

The soundtrack increases the sense of reality and the descriptions can be pasted on to the screen while the clips are run. Similarly, the still photos can link with captions for on-screen or printed presentation. The audio broadcast from the Kukri Mukri radio station provides graphic descriptions and meteorological updates, which teachers can use with extracts from the photocopiable worksheets of maps and diagrams.

Teachers make good use of videoed news broadcasts and newspaper cuttings, most of which can only be researched "by hand". In the Eye of the Storm enables them to develop ICT skills in combination with sound geography in thematic studies of weather and climate, population and development, hazards, landscapes and economics. Teachers should allow adequate time for setting up the disk as Quicktime, Adobe and Acrobat software packages are required to access all files. This will avoid partial application in which images are run without sound.

This is an exciting resource and well worth considering, especially as it so neatly combines geography with ICT. It is also excellent value for money.

Colin Harris is a geography consultant and inspector Deserted: a farmer in Burkina Faso surveys his drought-ravaged land.

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