How to unload those Webs

14th March 1997 at 00:00
Internet Odyssey CD-Rom for multimedia PCs, Pounds 17.01 plus VAT; Yorkshire International Thomson Multimedia, The Television Centre, Leeds LS3 1JS Tel: 0113 222 8370.

When technology offers a way of dealing with a pressing need, then just offer up thanks. Internet Odyssey is described as an authoring tool, which makes it sound forbidding and expensive. It is actually something more because it is simple to use, and something less because it is not as sophisticated as an authoring package. So what is the pressing need, then?

In classrooms and libraries all over the UK, staff and children are consulting CD-Roms or using the Internet to find information. They then print it out: using the electronic technology of the 20th century to go back to the paper-based technology of the 15th century.

Internet Odyssey is a software tool that collects all the types of information you can find on the Internet and your CD-Roms and lets you move the items into your own electronic rag bag so that you can order them into sequences of your own choosing. It won't allow you to create hot spots and links between items, but you can incorporate material of your own to build a simple presentation of information. Simply put, with this tool you can use CD-Roms and the Internet to create additional information packages of your own.

Consider the possibilities. If you have a particular research topic in mind, then a large percentage of the information you find on Internet sites or CDs is probably irrelevant and possibly distracting. With Internet Odyssey you can find the relevant material, take it off the CD or the Internet, put it into order and thus make it available in the form that will have the most relevance for your school, for your students.

Children who are taking part in this kind of activity are achieving a great deal in national curriculum terms. They are actually engaging with the information they find.

One of the most distressing sights in learning is the way that the information from a CD-Rom can go straight from disc to printer to project folder without ever entering a mind. A package like Internet Odyssey can help to prevent that happening. In addition it can help to encourage teachers and students to work in the medium that in the future will carry so much information.

Snags? The program is developed by YITM and, although it is designed for the Internet, it is also designed to harmonise first and foremost with YITM discs. It will work with others but it is not yet as simple it could be. All new YITM CDs from now on will have a free copy of Scrapbook Odyssey on the disc.

Often a teacher's first response to a CD-Rom is "Will it print out?". Internet Odyssey might bring the day closer when the teacher will say, "How can I reshape and re-order some of this so that it will be more useful in the classroom?".

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