21st September 2001 at 01:00
Digit Dome. BNFL Community Affairs pound;6.95 + VAT. Available from BNFL Education Unit, PO Box 100, Warrington WA4 6FB. Freephone 0808 1001444

Wicked Waste. The Open University. Teacher's Guide and one CD-Rom: pound;19.99. Additional CD-ROMs: pound;1.50.

Digit Dome is a cheap and cheerful program aimed for key stage 2. Eight activity "zones" in the "dome" offer between them 24 question and answer sessions, each addressing a particular mathematical skill.

Unfortunately, until a session is under way there is no way of knowing the skill or level it addresses, making a pedagogical navigation of the program difficult. And sessions merely test; there is no learning element, such as clues and second attempts for incorrect answers.

So not for serious classroom use. But if you are prepared to accept some annoying errors such as "the icebergs temperature" and "guage" for "gauge", adequate for wet playtimes or for home use.

Wicked Waste is aimed at Year 5 as a numeracy and literacy teaching programme wrapped in an environmental science cloak. In fact, it is an excellent environmental science program with almost incidental numeracy and literacy aspects bolted on.

Using video clips, photographs and animation, five "waste streams" provide the story of glass, paper, organics, metals, paper and plastics from creation to waste.

Each stream has threemodules, each taking about 20 minutes. At the end of a module there is choice of a loosely related numeracy or literacy exercise or a mixture of both. As with Digit Dome, there is no prior indication of the learning objectives. And, again, answers to questions are deemed either right or wrong, with no learning element.

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