MULTIMEDIA 95: Schools Enter the Rom Race
Cole, George, The Independent (London, England)
Combine the power of the computer with the medium of television and you have a hugely powerful learning system. This is what multimedia offers education. The ability of students to use multimedia programmes which allow them to control the pace, depth and direction of their learning, is exciting many teachers and students.
One of the fastest growing multimedia formats in education is CD-Rom. Each disk can store a shelf-full of books, a year's supply of newspapers or thousands of images, making it an invaluable research tool.
Louis Victor, library administrator at Hatch End High School in London, said: "We have CD-Roms on our school computer network and it means that pupils have access to reference materials all around the school."
Since 1991, the Department for Education has provided around pounds 17m for projects which put CD-Rom drives and disks into schools. Over three quarters of secondary schools in Britain have access to at least one CD-Rom drive. It allows students to explore information in ways that are just not possible with a book or even a video recorder.
They can jump from, say, a picture of Beethoven, to a text biography and then listen to a music score. Text and images can be printed out, or put into a word processor or desktop publishing package as part of a "multimedia essay".
CD-Rom encyclopaedias like Microsoft's Encarta now outsell their paper counterparts. It's easy to think that CD-Rom heralds the demise of the school textbook, but this won't happen yet. CD-Rom has its advantages but there are also drawbacks.
"The problem is that some CD-Roms look great, but offer little in the way of useful information, while others have lots of information that is poorly presented. We need more titles that offer the best of both worlds," says Dr Angela McFarlane, director of the IT Unit at Homerton College, Cambridge.
Better CD-Roms are on the way. Dr Alan Buckingham, managing director of Dorling Kindersley Multimedia, says that many will soon offer simulations rather than just animations: "Instead of simply seeing how a nuclear power station works, you'll be able to set the controls yourself and see what happens," he says.
More than 2000 schools in Britain are using another type of multimedia system, Philips Compact Disc Interactive (CD-i). This plugs into a television set, uses a remote control handset rather than a keyboard and plays …
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Publication information: Article title: MULTIMEDIA 95: Schools Enter the Rom Race. Contributors: Cole, George - Author. Newspaper title: The Independent (London, England). Publication date: June 19, 1995. Page number: 8. © 2009 The Independent - London. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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