eMaths Zone

Article excerpt

I was sent three review sets (Years 8, 9 and 10) of the new Maths Zone series of text-books from Heinemann and their companion eMaths Zone CD-ROMs which are available in student and teacher versions. Mingled with the excitement of testing good quality, new software has been a regret that we did not have resources as good as this years ago.

The zone concept allows the publisher to cope with differences in curricular between states. My sets are designed to match the South Australian Curriculum Frameworks. Unlike other states, only Windows versions are available for the SA zone. In this article I will describe aspects of the student CD and we will explore the teacher CD next time.

Books and CDs can be purchased separately. The student CDs are the same price (about $40) as the text-book (the complete text-book is included as a PDF file). The text-book with CD included is about $9 more than the student CD.

Multi-user licences are available and students are allowed to copy each year's CD to their hard disk--a most attractive option for 'laptop schools'. With careful management, CDs could be issued long enough to copy to home hard disks and then stored at school. Books would then not be needed at home thereby avoiding back injuries caused by carrying heavy bags (have you noticed that they usually blame the weight of the mathematics text?). Both books and CDs would last longer if they did not have to survive the football boots, spilt drinks or mould found in some student bags.

I was impressed with the effort that has been made to match the electronic media to the textbook. There are computer-assisted instruction and assessment alternatives for each section of the curriculum. When we consider the complexity of repeating this development across five zones we begin to understand the savings which could be made if we adopted a national curriculum. Even if a few more states agreed to cooperate, a reduction in the number of zones would make the provision of quality resources much more cost effective.

The first menu item provides access to a PDF file of the text-book. Unlike PDF files on similar CDs, this file is not locked. Pages can be printed and teachers can use a PDF writer to edit exercises so that assessment sheets can be prepared which exactly match the pages used for desk work and homework. Access to the text file also helps students set out their homework using their computer because they will not need to copy the questions. Parents will no longer be able to complain that they 'bought a computer for their children to do homework and all they do is play games'.

The screen dumps used to illustrate this article are taken from the 3-D Trigonometry section of the SA Zone, Year 10 student CD-ROM.

The eTutorials access Macromedia files which make excellent use of animation and sound to carefully explain each process step-by-step as they have been explained in the text-book. This feature will be particularly useful to those parents who like to help their child with homework. The availability of professional resources within each home will assist teachers to strengthen a close teacher-parent working relationship. They will also prove invaluable to home-schoolers.

The eQuestions (above) match the tutorials and provide further practice in the skills which have been explained. Harder examples include a hint button which usually leads to some reminders about the steps which could be taken. However, the hint buttons for questions 9 and 10 of this section did not seem to work. …