Geodata Australia - Reviews

Geoffrey Paterson
Distance Education Centre, Victoria

Geodata Australia CD-ROM contains 336 text files, 346 data files in tables, 1065 photographs, 97 maps, 702 graphs and details of National Profiles Outcomes. Associated activities accompany the CD-ROM as hard copy.

After loading Geodata, the resulting computer window is divided into four parts. The top left hand segment lists in table form links to each graphic noted above. Clicking on one of these links produces the graphic in the top right segment. In the bottom left are links to twenty-nine student activities that use some of the data. Click on an activity link and the details appear in the bottom right segment. A list of URL's related to Australia is also provided. The layout is clear and easy to understand.

The data types noted above are accessed by a pull down menu in the top left. For example, select "photographs" and all photograph links are listed. Click on a link and the relevant ground, oblique or aerial jpg file appears in the top right segment. A search for data can be refined by Keyword Search which includes a range of locations (including states, selected regions and capital cities) and a range of topics. Additional features for each graphic are zoom, full screen format, the ability to have a number of images on the screen, and cut and paste.

There is a commendable range of accessible data that can be easily searched and tailored to individual learning situations. These situations may range from primary to senior secondary, and for use in teacher materials preparation or in student research.

Data must be readable both on screen and in hard copy. Geodata is successful in most cases although several maps are hard to read (for example, Maps 5 and 97).

I firmly believe that all textbooks and teaching materials must provide metadata for each graphic. Geodata photographs have some accompanying details but I would like a more consistent and detailed approach that includes precise location and time. Similarly, some maps are missing source and, more importantly, scale.

Geodata is good value for money and illustrates the potential of the CD-ROM. I recommend its purchase for adaptation to your classroom because of the large quantity and range of data on many aspects of our Australian environment. In addition, the ability to search the data for teacher and student use makes this CD-ROM and attractive resource.