Introducing Map Skills 1 & 2 (Cambridge University Press) Review | The Micro User - Everygamegoing

The Micro User

Introducing Map Skills 1 & 2
By Cambridge University Press
BBC B/B+/Master 128

Published in The Micro User 2.10

Map Skills helps plug the geography gap

Until recently there has been a dearth of readily available commercial geography software. But the situation is rapidly improving and Introducing Map Skills I and II (Cambridge University Press) attempt to present programs which can be used to improve mapwork concepts and skills.

Part I consists of two programs - Grid References and Scales. The former is intended as an introduction to the use of four figure and six figure grid references.

A brief introductory section, using graphics, illustrates how they are used by different people. The remainder of the program is interactive with instruction and practice in the use of grid references.

A final section allows a revision test, giving a score and indicating any weaknesses of the pupil in using grid references.

Scales is an instructional program using a map which can be displayed at one of four scales, or together superimposed so that the scales can be compared. The representative fraction is also displayed graphically.

Part II concentrates on the use of the compass and consists of three programs. Two are interactive ones providing instruction and revision on the use of compass points and bearings.

The third is a game for one or two players which makes use of compass directions or bearings to navigate a yacht around an oval course with the minimum number of goes and without hitting the bank.

The compass programs are the most difficult to use in the whole package, requiring careful teacher instruction and pupil attention to grasp the concepts.

The initial program is a useful introduction but has a number of defects. It is, for instance. difficult to work out the bearings for certain compass points as the figures are plotted inside a circle and not alongside the compass direction.

This reduces the accuracy and makes it difficult for pupils to work out which bearing is being required.

Documentation is brief but adequate, giving an outline of possible classroom strategies for using the programs and a closer analysis of program structures, including screen displays.

Also included are instructions on actual use of the programs and worksheets which can be copied and used in the class room.

The programs are probably most suitable for pupils of lower secondary age, though the readability of some of the text suggests that lower ability pupils would need considerable teacher assistance. I have tried the programs with a variety of age groups, including sixth form.

Overall the packages are useful and will temporarily plug the gap in the software market, but there is clearly room for improvement.

John Russell