What's on the menu?

10th October 2003 at 01:00
Ali Farrell looks at resources for key stages 3 and 4 that develop students' ICT skills while helping them learn about food technology

Whether under the guise of food and nutrition, home economics or food technology, the main purpose of food education is to equip young people with knowledge and skills. But to ensure this for today's young people, the curriculum must reflect the technological context in which they live, learn and experience food. Otherwise, it will hold little meaning for the learner and is unlikely to be successful.

During recent years, educational software has developed to become increasingly sophisticated and better able to address curriculum needs in creative ways. A really good computer program will bring something innovative to the learning. This might be a fresh angle on existing knowledge, an imaginative way of engaging the learner, or opening up new ways of experiencing a concept or procedure.

In food technology, a good piece of software would support learning about food safety and hygiene, food functions, nutrition, processing or production. It might also address the development of thinking skills, attitudes and values relating to food issues. Needless to say, software is no substitute for hands-on experience with food, but it can support the essential learning that goes on in practical food work.

Teachers rightly want to be convinced that well-designed software is more than a high-tech gimmick with attractive packaging if it is to be judged worthy of the time and energy required to use it in the classroom.

This survey highlights some of the most noteworthy software titles on the market for secondary schools. As with any resource, careful planning by the teacher is what will determine its success.

While considering useful software, websites should not be overlooked, and there are some that are well worth checking on a regular basis.

There are thousands of food websites but if you venture little further than those listed here you'll have made in-roads to some of the most useful.

British Nutrition Foundation: www.nutrition.org.uk National Grid for Learning: www.foodtech.org.uk Food Standards Agency: www.food.gov.uk Educational Communications: www.good2eat.info www.foodhygienecontrol (can't find this one) Title

Behind the Scenes Data (2002) Price: pound;41.13 (inc VAT) Tel: 01789 473901 Email: pam@data.org.ul www.data.org.uk

Content

Behind the Scenes is an interactive CD-Rom allowing students to tour and explore a virtual food factory in a fun and informative way, while learning about important food-processing concepts and methods. They are taken through five product development stages: Ingredients; The creative bit; Into production; It's a wrap; and The danger zone. Progress can be tracked as individuals move through the sections and their work can be printed.

Design

The CD-Rom contains a glossary of terms, a tutorial on navigating the resource and a learning management system for teachers.

The material is attractively presented. Sections are straightforward to navigate, although working through the CD-Rom can be a little slow. There are five sessions and each takes 50 minutes to complete.

Curriculum relevance

One aspect relating to the study of food technology through GCSE or GNVQ manufacturing courses, is that students are expected to develop a thorough awareness and understanding of manufacturing systems and their control.

This resource supports this curriculum objective through a "hands-on" learning style. It provides an in-depth view of food manufacturing, but only of one particular sector: dry sauce manufacture.

Verdict

Behind the Scenes provides realistic simulated experiences of product design and manufacture. Its computerised graphics and virtual reality style are likely to appeal to students.

Title

Create: Food Technology Heinemann (2003) Price: Evaluation Pack (student book, teacher's resource pack + CD-Rom) pound;59.99; pound;180 for CD-Rom + site licence Tel: 01865 888058 www.heinemann.co.uk

Content

One in a series for KS3, each consisting of a student book, teacher file and student CD-Rom, Create: Food Technology comprehensively addresses the KS3 requirements. The interactive CD-Rom is designed to complement activities in the student book and includes: interactive starter activities for each unit; ready-made templates; a bank of images, video and finished examples of ICT work; video clips showing examples of real-life food technology, including CAD and CAM.

Design

The resource is attractively presented, colourful and lively. Students should find the layout motivating and engaging. Well designed icons are used to cross-reference resources within the set.

Curriculum relevance

Important KS3 topics, linked to the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority KS3 Damp;T scheme of work, are covered, including food safety and hygiene, nutrition, product analysis, food handling, functionality of ingredients, development and manufacture.

Verdict

Create: Food Technology is an engaging and creative set of resources providing a great support to teaching and learning in food technology.

Title

Food for a PC: version 6 Linnet software (2003) Price: pound;24 + VAT single user; pound;55 + VAT multi-user.

Existing customers may upgrade for pound;10 Tel: 01455 291455 E:mail: j.hill@lynx-linnet.com www.lynx-linnet.com

Content

Food for a PC: version 6 is a networkable nutritional analysis programme, that uses Microsoft Excel and up-to-date HMSO data. The extensive database contains around 750 foods, including novel and multicultural ingredients.

Facilities include product labels, star profiles for attribute analysis, and a product costing sheet for working out unit cost and approximate retail price. Data in categories is easy to access via tabs or screen buttons. Data and calculations can be displayed in chart form, printed out and exported into other applications.

Design

The program facilitates complex modelling of nutritional and other values, eg cost, ratios, proportions. Procedures are straightforward and backed up by teacher notes (on the CD-Rom). With Microsoft Excel it is easy to install and manage across a network.

Curriculum relevance

This is a flexible ICT tool that speeds up nutritional analysis and makes it more accurate as pupils don't have to make their own calculations. As a modelling facility, it supports development of food knowledge, skills and understanding.

Verdict

Food for a PC is an inexpensive nutritional analysis tool that provides teachers and students with exactly what they need to use ICT effectively.

Title

Food in Focus Ridgwell Press Price: pound;75.00 single user; pound;150 2-10 users;pound;200 11-20 users; pound;250 21+ users (all + VAT) Tel: 01536 399017 E:mail: jenny@ridgwellpress.couk www.ridgwellpress.co.uk

Content

Food in Focus is a reliable and extensive nutritional analysis database (drawn from McCance and Widdowson) that includes more than 1,000 foods, but you cannot add foods to it. It deals with dietary, ingredient and recipe analysis and food labelling, and includes useful worksheets. Data and calculations can be displayed and printed out.

Design

The material is clearly presented in bright colours and would appeal to students at KS3 and 4. The CD-Rom is easily navigated using icon buttons.

The instructions on the cover are comprehensive and there is a help menu accessed from the CD-Rom.

Curriculum relevance

The CD-Rom supports the nutritional analysis of ingredients, diets, meals and food products and allows students to demonstrate a practical understanding of food labelling regulations.

Verdict

Food in Focus is a good quality product that is effective and reliable.

However, equivalent programs are available that are cheaper and just as good.

Title

Food Safety foundation Highfield.co.uk Limited (2002) Price: Educational prices on request Tel: 01302 391999 www.highfield.co.uk

Content

Food Safety is a modular course of study in basic food safety and hygiene on CD-Rom. Companion videos are available. The training programme is managed by the teacher and students have to be registered and enrolled.

Modules and pace may be individually set. Each module has stated learning objectives and the teacher can keep track of each student's progress.

Module pages may be printed and kept. A certificate of achievement can be printed out.

Design

The presentation is attractive and clearly designed, although not particularly dynamic. The CD-Rom is easy to navigate using the buttons which are always visible. Shortcut keys may also be used. It takes a little time for the supervising teacher to enter all the set-up details for students using the programme, but this is not difficult and the user notes are clear.

Curriculum relevance

The course covers knowledge of food safety and hygiene, and the ability to apply this understanding practically, which is essential for all food handlers.

Verdict

Food Safety is a well-conceived and valuable tool to support the teaching of food safety and hygiene. It is motivational and enables students to work independently.

Title

HACCP Economatics Education (2001) Price: pound;49 multi-user licence, networkable Tel: 0114 281 3311 www.economatics.co.uk

Content

The HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) CD-Rom includes industrial case-study materials on cheese, bread and cook-chill manufacture, plus an interactive modelling facility that allows students explore industry examples. Designed for KS3 and 4, the software is a research tool about how HACCP is used in industry. Students can step through flow diagrams at their own pace, following hazard, control, check and action processes. The modelling mode allows them to change variables, highlighting the importance of the HACCP procedure. Students are then able to create their own products using customised templates provided. The activity sheets provide a range of tasks for use with the software and can easily be edited and printed.

Design

The material is simple to access, mainly by following on-screen instructions and navigation buttons. The case studies are illustrated by diagrams and photos. The information is detailed and useful although not very dynamically presented. Teacher's notes and a help facility are accessible from the CD-Rom.

Curriculum relevance

The case studies provide a realistic and valuable source of research information from which students can learn about food processing, production and industrial practices. The interactive modelling facility illustrates the use of systems and control in food technology and gives students an actual experience of simulating HACCP systems related to their own work.

Verdict

HACCP is a rich resource, offering opportunities for students to use ICT through research and modelling, and is good value at half its original published price.

Title

ICT Food Activities Heinemann (2000) Price: Single user pack (booklet and CD-Rom) pound;57.99; pound;173.99 for 5 disks + site licence Tel: 01865 888080 www.heinemann.co.uk

Content

ICT Food Activities consists of a printed booklet and CD-Rom containing student interactivities and support materials for using ICT in food technology. The teacher booklet contains guidance and photocopiable activity worksheets. The student CD-Rom contains activities and tools such as templates and writing frames to help structure written work. These can be customised for general use.

Design

Both the booklet and the CD-Rom are well designed, attractive and clearly presented. The guides to using each element are well planned. Links between the booklet and the CD-Rom activities are usefully cross-referenced.

Curriculum relevance

This resource addresses a full range of ways in which ICT may be used to support the food technology curriculum, including spreadsheets for costing, calculating and attribute analysis; databases for recipes and nutritional analysis; flow-charts for planning; nets for labeling and packaging; the internet for research.

Verdict

ICT Food Activities acts as a guide to developing ICT skills. Teachers could use it as a self-help guide, as well as to help them to incorporate ICT into lessons.

Title

Interactive Food Facts British Nutrition Foundation Price: pound;60 single user licence; pound;120 multi-user licence Tel: 0207 404 6504 www.nutrition.org.uk

Content

The Interactive Food Facts CD-Rom combines materials from the BNF's successful Food - a Fact of Life program with more recent materials to produce in a multi-media resource. It includes a vast encyclopaedia of food and nutrition information, case studies and a selection of facilities with which to investigate, explore and model. Food and nutrition topics can be researched using key words and explored via a set of case studies, enhanced with video clips, slide shows and virtual reality to provide a variety of insights and perspectives. The cake-modelling option, based on an industrial CAD program, provides an opportunity to do new product development or ingredient investigations.

Design

One excellent feature of the CD-Rom is a notepad. Information may be stored in up to six folders, which can help to organise research. There are extensive notes to help teachers get the most out of the resource and it is easy to navigate from one section to another. The cake modelling and nutrition analysis sections take a while to get to grips with.

Curriculum relevance

The CD-Rom supports teaching and learning about scientific principles related to food and nutrition, as well as domestic and commercial food production and food processing. It also supports the development of an awareness of social, consumer, economic and cultural aspects of food choice.

Verdict

Interactive Food Facts is an excellent and useful resource for KS3 upwards effectively incorporates a wide range of learning media. It effectively brings together existing and new materials.

Title

New Foods Ridgwell Press Blackwell Science(2001) Available for Acorn, Mac or PC Price: pound;65 (single user licence only) Tel: 01536 399017 Email: jenny@ridgwellpress.couk www.ridgwellpress.co.uk

Content

This ICT tool was developed and used to provide product intelligence information for the industry. The CD-Rom version provides schools with an archive database of food products launched in recent years. The database section allows students to research and investigate products, carry out evaluations, model comparisons and conduct market analyses. Each record provides a description, ingredients, nutritional content, cost, manufacturer and retailer together with a colour image of the packaging.

Design

The visual database is easy to use and designed to be interrogated using standard search engine conventions. Step-by-step instructions are provided and a comprehensive set of user notes is available.

Curriculum relevance

This source of information on food products may be used in a variety of ways, eg product evaluation and comparison, generation of new products and marketing ideas.

Verdict

This is an essential electronic information source for food technology, particularly KS4 and above. It is a value-for-money research and development tool.

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