CD-ROM Use in Health Instruction

Article excerpt

Optical storage technology is used increasingly in schools to provide students with large amounts of information in interesting and unique ways. Optical storage technology includes laser videodisc (LV), compact audio disc (CD), compact disc read-only memory (CD-ROM). digital video interactive (DVI), and compact disc interactive (CDI). The most common optical storage devices used in classrooms are CD-ROMs. These formats allow large amounts of text, graphics, pictures, and movies to be stored on a small disk.[1] A CD-ROM, for example, gives the user access to 170,000 pages of text, 1,000 graphics at 600 k each, 70 minutes of high-fi stereo audio, or 30 minutes of average quality video. Most often, text and animation are mixed with photos and video.[2] A CD-ROM can store up to 650 mb of information, whereas a 3.5-inch high density disk can store up to 1.44 mb of information.

CD-ROMs are similar to audio compact discs, but they store computer files and programs, which include graphics. sound effects, music, compressed video, and animation. To function, CD-ROMs require a computer equipped with a special player. Most educational desktop computers come with CD-ROM drives that are built in as standard equipment.

When CD drives were first developed, they were single speed. CD-ROM drives were later enhanced to 2x (double speed), then to 4x (quad speed). Today, CD-ROM drives are designed to run at 16x and 24x. These higher speeds are important when running multimedia titles or games, and in the classroom they can mean the difference between losing or keeping students' attention. However, even at these enhanced speeds, CD-ROMs are slower than computer hard drives.


CD-ROMs have been used many ways in education including encyclopedias, interactive storybooks, instructional software, simulation software, and databases. There are advantages when using a CD-ROM: massive storage capacity; digitized video and audio; rapid and random access; durability of data storage and original contents which can't be changed.[3]

CD-ROM technology can bring instructional advantages to the classroom.[4] While optical disc technology can be used in whole-class instruction, equipment may be set up in self-contained learning stations when not in use for direct teacher instruction. In this way, students can individually access information at their own learning rates. The teacher becomes a facilitator or resource person.

Enhanced Individual Learning Experiences

Non-text information, such as video and film contained on CDs, can provide non-readers with an ideal opportunity for learning. CDs offer access to large amounts of information to learners who may otherwise be unable visit libraries, museums, or art galleries. CDs that contain sound and pictures provide good feedback for the learner who needs extra reinforcement. In addition, most CDs allow the learner to take an active approach to learning, and this offers the student a feeling of greater control. …