Putting Your Course Materials on a CD-Rom Disk
Child, Jack, MACLAS Latin American Essays
This paper presents information on a multimedia presentation (text, drawings, photographs, video, sound, interactive computer programs) dealing with the extreme Southern Cone of Latin America: the so-called "South American Quadrant" of Antarctica, and the Falklands/Malvinas Islands and surrounding waters. The presentation was designed to be used with a Macintosh computer and is packaged on CD-ROM disks.
To deal with the geographic question first, for most people living in the northern hemisphere (and especially those in the United States and Europe) Antarctica and the sub-Antarctic Islands such as the Malvinas/Falklands are exotic and distant places with little connection to the Western Hemisphere. However, for those living in the Southern Cone of South America (and most especially in Argentina and Chile), Antarctica is close (only 600 miles across the Drake Passage), and the South Atlantic Islands are a vital link between the South American and Antarctic continents. Even if we do not accept this argument, it verges on the ethnocentric to dismiss this link as a South American idiosyncrasy since the geographic area involved is included in the Rio, and Argentines' and Chileans' (as well as Britons') claim that their national sovereignty extends to the South Pole. As for the islands of the South Atlantic, we should remember that Great Britain and Argentina fought over them a decade and a half ago, and that one of the causes of the war was that the islands are perceived to be a link to Antarctica.
The CD-ROM disks and the multimedia presentation they contain are the ongoing product of a three-year grant from the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), whose support is gratefully acknowledged. The grant is in the "negotiation and mediation" category of USIP solicited grants, and forms the core of a course on Antarctica and the Falklands/Malvinas which the author of this paper has offered in English and Spanish for several years.
This grant applies new information technologies to the teaching of a series of six negotiation and mediation role-playing simulations set in three time frames and two geographic settings. The time frames are "historical," "recent" and "future," as follows:
The Falklands/Malvinas simulations are basically dyadic between the United Kingdom and Argentina although other actors, such as the Islands' local inhabitants (the "Kelpers"), the United States and several Latin American nations are also involved. This simulation also includes a number of mediators, such as the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the president of a Latin American nation, and the Secretary of State of the United States. The Antarctic negotiation is multilateral, with up to 50 nations involved, as well as several conservation organizations and commercial firms.
The new technologies which were applied to these simulations were the personal computer and its CD-ROM ("Compact Disk - Read Only Memory") capability linked to several appropriate pieces of software. The grant products are currently (early 1997) being developed and tested in several college-level courses taught by the principal investigator, as well as several colleagues.
The New Information Technologies
The personal computer has now put at the disposal of most college faculty and students a multimedia device capable of handling large amounts of word-processing, documents, bibliographic data bases and visuals (both still and live video). The CD-ROM disks currently being used have storage capabilities in the range of 650 megabytes of information. This means that a single 4 3/4 inch plastic disk can store the equivalent of 450 floppy disks (1.4 megabytes each), or about 250,000 pages of text. Depending on the size and resolution, the same disk can store anywhere between 500 and 2,000 color images.
At the same time, the cost and complexity of the equipment required to prepare ("burn" in the current jargon) CD-ROM disks has diminished considerably, to the point that for about the cost of a computer an author can purchase a CD-ROM "burner" and the scanning hardware which permits digitizing documents and visuals and placing them on the CD-ROM. …