Window on Wales

7th July 2000 at 01:00
Maldwyn Pryse reviews RM's latest software for Welsh-medium classrooms

The RM Curriculum Window Box Cymraeg is the latest version of the award-winning RM PC that is preloaded with software tailored to the classroom and curriculum. It consists of the full English Window Box product, plus selected software in Welsh.

Window Box Cymraeg is designed to meet the needs of the new Curriculum 2000 being introduced in Wales from September, and is virtually the same as the English Window Box. There is, however, one important difference. RM ClassMate, the management system, has an option to switch between an English-language interface and Welsh.

Whichever option is chosen, there is an additional desktop on all Welsh systems called "Cymraeg". Logging on to this desktop presents a limited selection of Welsh-language software: Gair i Gall, the Welsh-language word-processor from Black Cat; Dechrau Graffio, simple pictograms and graphs with built-in reports for pupils; Swyn Rhif, a spreadsheet for junior pupils with built-in Formula Builder, Topic Bank, Detector and Number Grids; Swyn Lliw 2, a painting package with curriculum-relevant tools and powerful photo-editing features; Fy Myd 3, the latest version of My World with excellent Welsh-language content; and Blwch Gwaith RM, the new tool for working with files that teachers hve downloaded from RM Window Box OnLine (RM's free curriculum resources website).

Amazingly, this Welsh Window Box costs the same as a standard Curriculum Window Box. An RM Celeron 500 PC with 64MB RAM and a 6GB hard disk, a 48 speed CD ROM and a 10100 Ethernet card currently costs pound;893 for the fully pre-installed Curriculum Window Box software or pound;1,093 for the Curriculum Plus.

However, to describe this Window Box as Welsh is somewhat misleading as its selected Welsh-medium software does not allow for full coverage of the IT curriculum in Welsh schools. Crucially, there is no database, LOGO, Pic 'n' Mix CDs or music software in Welsh. There is actually less Welsh-medium software on this Window Box than on previous versions. On Window Box OnLine, only the pupil interface is in Welsh and the curriculum links omit any reference to Wales.

RM argues that it does far more than all other PC-suppliers to offer a system appropriate for use in Wales. In its defence, RM is currently working on a new version of Window Box OnLine that promises to include large numbers of Welsh activity files and offers the ability to sort, filter and search for Welsh curriculum materials. But the company should watch out for rivals looking to offer a better deal.

Maldwyn Pryse is ICT curriculum co-ordinator with Powys LEA

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