Putting industry in its place
Teacher knows best" appears to be the motto of the Usable Software Company. Its policy is to commission software programs direct from practising teachers. As a result the products have a relevance and practicality not always apparent in educational software. In particular these two programs, which are intended for more able GCSE and A-level students, have a refreshing simplicity.
The Evolution of Industrial Location Theory sets out the background to Weber's original ideas, then in a sequence of easy-to-follow screens, takes the readeruser through subsequent developments and enhancements. There are opportunities for interaction between user and program, but these are minimal. This doesn't matter; what does matter is that students, either working in groups or alone, can discover the relevance and importance of this key geographical concept by repetition and reinforcement. One can only admire the directness of the approach, which, coupled with the clarity of the graphics and the simplicity of the text, makes this an ideal example of how to use computers in the classroom.
Making a similar claim is Geo Quiz, from the same team at King's College School Wimbledon. This is the end-of-term dream program (and would also make an ideal present for all the family!) since it contains 1,000 multiple choice questions of geographical fact.
"The currency of Portugal is the . . ." might not sound the type of question to improve the examination prospects of A-level candidates, but hundreds of other questions on such topics as weather and climate, soils and vegetation, economic activity and geographical skills provide a great deal of help. The program is organised to provide different levels of difficulty and styles of scoring (team games, timed competitions etc). It's good fun and will assist in providing the valuable fact base that underpins an understanding of geographical concepts and skills.
Both programs are PC-based and require Windows 3.1 running on a 386 processor with 2 Mb RAM available. They are easy to install. Sitenetwork licences are also available from the Usable Software Company.