We're on a road to somewhere

28th June 1996 at 01:00
Colin Muddimer takes the wheel to test-drive resources on motor vehicles MOTOR VEHICLE ENGINEERING. NVQ course on a set of three CDs. AK Vision, 5 Chequers, High Street, Ingatestone, Essex CM4 0DG Tel: 01277 354169

THE DRIVING TEST: YOUR LICENCE TO DRIVE. Institute of Advanced Motorists with 4Di CD-Rom for PC, Pounds 29.99 inc VAT. From retail outlets.Institute of Advanced Motorists, IAM House. 359 Chiswick High Road, London W4 4HS Tel: 0181 994 4403

The price of Pounds 995 is for a one-year licence and five sets. Additional copies Pounds 35 to licence holders.

Designed to meet NVQ training requirements at Level 2, this multimedia course for aspiring car mechanics, by AK Vision, accelerates through 21 headings, navigating the complexities of a range of subjects from steering and brakes to contractual relations with the customer.

The material is accurate, logically laid out and easy to follow. It holds the interest very well, although the amount of animated graphics available was quite limited for a resource costing so much.

There is mention of health and safety at the end of each unit and within the units where it is relevant. The Self Assessment Questions (SAQs) are very good, and considerable help is provided for the tutor in tracking student progress.

Although clearly targeted at vocational college courses, there is obviously a great deal of potential here for schools, especially among less willing learners in science and technology.

However, I have a serious reservation about the language level of the explanations. The authors are obviously at pains to use correct terms at all times.

The difficulty with this, though, is that the resultant language is often too advanced for many of the young people who could benefit from the course. Anyone for whom English was a second language would find it a very real problem.

A rubric such as "combined with knowledge and understanding, the motor vehicle engineer should carry out his work logically and methodically" is fine in principle, but neither the words nor the way they are delivered here are likely to make a potentially disaffected youngster get excited about a career in motor vehicle repair.

The price structure, too, will cause problems for schools. It is suggested that the initial cost of almost Pounds 1,000 can be recouped by selling individual copies to students, and a "zero outlay" scheme is in operation that makes use of this.

However, although colleges may be able to sell individual copies, it is unlikely that schools would either want or be able to do so. My school would certainly not buy it at this price.

This is a bank of interactive quiz tests with video clips. The disc is said to have eight-and-a-half hours of driving and theory tests. Each one is randomly constructed from a bank of 550 questions supported by quarter-screen video clips, colour phoT tographs and animations. The tests can be used in a number of ways - to promote competition between individuals or groups for example. This CD is entertaining and thoroughly educational. It uses a cartoon character called Driva who motors across the screen in a jolly car, telling you how you are doing. He has a fascinating North country accent and a wicked tongue.

I would thoroughly recommend this product for schools, especially those many secondary schools which have some kind of driving or "pre-driving" programme.

Take care, however, that you have the equipment necessary to run it - 486sx, Windows 3.1, 64K colour graphics card and 8 megabytes of memory. My school does not have such a machine not already dedicated to another use, and so it was run - very slowly - on a more lowly computer.

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