Geology of AustraliaMark Warne
School of Earth Sciences, La Trobe University
Geology of Australia is an introduction to earth sciences and a comprehensive illustrated guide to the geology of Australia.
Facilities and capabilities of the package
This hypermedia package consists of two CD-ROMs. The package is essentially a digital text book. The content is organised into six sections as follows: 1. Introduction to Earth Sciences; 2. Minerals and Resources; 3. Topographical and Geological Maps; 4. Geological Time; 5. Principle Geological Features; and 6. Geological Atlas. Each of these sections is divided into a number of subsections. For instance the introduction to Earth Sciences section is subdivided into forty-three topics each of which has a number of accessible screens ("electronic cards") which are portrayed on the computer screen as a sequence of labelled files. These can be individually selected by clicking on file labels. Most screens consist of text and images. Highlighted key words in the text can be selected for additional information. Images can be individually selected to give an expanded view of diagrams and photographs as well as additional information in the form of text notes. Navigation from one topic to another within this particular section is facilitated by scrollable text boxes listing related topics to the selected topic in view on the computer screen. Other sections include video, digital gazetteer and some simple interactive maps and graphics. Operational and image design varies between sections.
IBM-compatible PC (486 or higher), Microsoft Windows 3.1 or higher supporting 640x480, 256-colour SVGA, 4Mb RAM, 6Mb free hard disk space, Mouse, CD-ROM drive, sound card and speakers or headphones.
Ease of use
Once installed the program is easy to use as it adopts a mostly conventional hypermedia approach which includes "buttons", "scroll bars", "drag bars" or "hot text" to navigate through aspects of the program.
Suitability for use in teaching
This software is suitable for a self-paced, theoretical, learning program for students on introductory geology, although it does not have a stand-alone teaching and learning structure. The program has a number of additional resources such as digital Geological Atlas that may be usefully compiled into a broader teaching materials framework of a conventional course on Introductory Geology.
Area of application and intended users
Clearly this program does not substitute for an Introductory Geology course that is designed as the initial part of an university undergraduate program leading to the training of professional geologists as it is not suitable for teaching students practical or field skills. However the program may be used as a part substitute for theoretical aspects of lectures on Introductory Geology. The program would be especially useful for non-professional geoscientific oriented education programs at a senior secondary school or first year university level.
Coverage of material
The computer program gives an acceptable coverage of topics common to lecture programs for Introductory Geology courses, although aspects of Structural Geology are under-represented.
The information provided in this software package is scientifically accurate.
The teaching resource materials of this software are extensive and most teachers of Introductory Geology courses would find the content of these CD-ROMs a helpful adjunct to their courses. At the current price of $99.00 the product is very good value.
UniServe Science News Volume 8 November 1997
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