A&B Computing


Author: Des Thomas
Publisher: British Telecom
Machine: BBC Model B

Published in A&B Computing 5.07


This program has been developed by the Computers in the Curriculum Project at Kings College in collaboration with British Telecom Educational Service and designed for use with 11 to 16 year olds. It's a very well-produced package and is obviously heavily subsidised by BT. The handbook suggests it's possible to use the program with top juniors. It'll be a challenge to a group of bright sparks and, if used alongside McGinty's Gold and Fleet Street Phantom, will provide a useful range of material for any communication topic.

The adventure is based on one day in the life of a journalist and his attempts to obtain an interview with a multimillionaire recluse, i.e. obtain a Scoop! The pupils, who take on the role of the journalist, spend the day travelling to different locations in pursuit of the millionaire. If all the information technology devices, e.g. databases, Prestel, fax machines, radio pagers, answerphones, and the not-so-technical, e.g. talking to people, reading press cuttings, are used to advantage, then it's likely that they'll obtain their exclusive interview. Having achieved this, they have to write up their Scoop for the newspaper using the information gleaned from working through the program plus the press cuttings file.

The handbook suggests that each group will need at least two 40 minute lessons to finish the program, yet no SAVE facility is provided - they're expected to make notes so that they can return quickly to the point! I suppose that's one way of ensuring careful notetaking, but it's rather wasteful of computer time!

The press cuttings file is very well-presented, as are the information booklets on IT devices used in the program. The latter also offer assignments that reinforce the knowledge and are centred on locations in the program, e.g. viewdata systems at the airport, telex, databases, radio pagers, electronic mail in the electronic office, phones in the hotel, while the Benton's Arcade booklet concentrates on "the general effects of issues raised by information technology".

That'll do nicely, BT. Aren't there any more generous benefactors out there?

Des Thomas

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