CHANGING ENVIRONMENTS. CD-Rom pound;79.99 (+VAT and p+p) YITM, 1 Broadbent Road, Watersheddings, Oldham, OLl 4LD Tel: 0161 627 4469. PC only
GLOBETROTTER. CD-Rom pound;14.99 (inc VAT and p+p). Eaglemoss Publications, PO Box 1, Hastings, Kent TN35 4BR Tel: 01424 755755. PC only
REALLY WILD ANIMALS. Swinging Safari Explore and Print CD-Rom pound;14.99 (inc VAT and p+p). Hallmark Tel: 01664 481563PC and Mac
Children's choice of words often betrays their attitudes. When they are typing text they are normally "working on the computer"; when they get new CD-Roms they normally talk about "playing". That attitude certainly helps a positive approach to learning. And here are three CDs, for the 8-16 age range, that encourage a good bit of playing.
At the top of the age range is Changing Environments. The core of this interactive CD is the series of six programmes that first appeared in Channel 4's Geographic Eye series. Surrounding the video extracts are the normal facilities for indexing, searching and building your own notes. In addition, there are opportunities for role play exercises. The environ-ments examined range from the North Sea (fishing quotas) and East Anglia (village life), to the Loire Valley (farming in irrigated areas) and Ptolomeida in Greece (open cast mining). It's all relevant and useful.
This type of link-up between television broadcasts and CD-Roms may well become the norm once the digital revolution develops. Recording from your television on to discs will be, we are told, commonplace, with all the advantages of storage, accessing and editing. But all this is for the future. At present the crossover from one medium to another still leaves us with grainy images on the computer screen, but that's the only shortcoming. Otherwise it's good, though at pound;79.99, it needs to be.
Globetrotter is the pick of the bunch. It's a lively world wide data base. The information could be found in many other places, but the CD format facilitates easy comparison between countries. You can call up the nations of your choice and the CD provides instant comparative bar charts for a wide range of topics: area, population, labour force, religions and so on. As well as hard facts, there are also fun and games, including jigsaws, maze puzzles and quizzes. This tends to pitch the product at the lower ages, but the information has value for any age range.
This type of CD has great value in the library or the classroom during project time. You refer to one country, and get drawn into looking at others. You search for the colours of a flag or the currency of a nation and find yourself discovering information about the government or capital city. There are also excellent maps with a binocular (zoom) facility enabling an instant grasp of both location and scale. It's just as good for home as for school.
Really Wild Animals Swinging Safari Explore and Print - the title says it all. For eight to 12-year-olds, it's lively and decidedly interactive. You move around various African safari locations, look at the animals, listen to the sounds and - most significantly - build up notes, letters, postcards, comic strips, newspaper articles of your own. This last facility, creating your own publications, is the key. It may take a little time to work through it all to ensure you are doing it right, but the effort is worth it. Don't rush the process - this is one CD where a little time with the instruction booklet pays dividends. And there are dividends if your printer is working well with the programme.
Pupils can produce a variety of interesting publications, all with an educational and environmental bias. The CD comes with a helpful booklet and there are built-in links between the CD and the National Geographic Web site.