Gateway into Bali - Reviews

Sharon Jones
Distance Education Centre
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Geography Teachers Association Victoria
Interaction Volume 28 No. 4
December 2000

At a time when we're being told to include more IT, and in particular Geographical Information Systems (GIS), into our courses, Gateway Into Bali is the answer to a geography teacher's prayer. Teachers do not need training in GIS to use this program. If you've never used GIS before you'll be amazed at how quickly you can learn how to use tools and functions as you work through the program.

This interactive package contains three modules - GIS, Infobase and Bahasa Indonesia. The first two will be of most use to geography teachers.

The GIS section contains ten graded activities and five project topics based on Mapinfo (included on the CD). The dataset contains information on the coastline, contours, regency boundaries and capitals, villages, roads, rivers, soil types, land uses, rainfall, forest areas, population and tourism.

The graded activities are a pleasure to work through and the instructions are easy to follow. When you open a graded activity you will find two windows - the map window on the left and the activity (instruction) window on the right. Each section of any activity has three to six steps and the language of the instructions is personal, using 'I', 'we' and 'you'. The early activities introduce students to the tools and functions of GIS and allow them to create maps at a variety of scales. Later the activities cater for more advanced users. Activities include creating theme maps (climate and physical elevation), crating statistical maps (land use) and working with layer control (tourism and cultural impact).

GIS projects require students to complete research as well as create geographic techniques using the program. Projects include a comparison of health and welfare in Bali and Australia (useful for VCE Unit 2) and industry and employment (useful for VCE Unit 4 if studying tourism as a global phenomenon). Instructions here are brief and assume students know how to use the resource to create their geographic techniques. These could be given to 'advanced' students who complete the graded activities quickly.

Infobase in an interactive presentation in four sections - geography, tourism, economic activities, and culture and customs. These are further divided into a total of eighteen topics, each with photographs, graphs, maps, glossary and activity. Again, these are easy to read and they make good use of geographic techniques. Teachers wanting to study a country as a place in VCE Unit 1 would find this a useful resource.

Bahasa Indonesia is designed as an introduction to the Indonesian language and allows students to learn language in daily use, listen to native speakers and practice language skills. Topics include greetings, introducing yourself, buying and spending in Bali and eating out. If your school teaches Indonesian then perhaps the LOTE faculty would be interested in this program.

This program assumes a sound understanding of mapping and geographic characteristics so would be most suitable for years 9 - 12 geography students.

I highly recommend this resource. It allows teachers and students to use GIS in a structured program, developing both skills and understanding about the power of Geographic Information Systems.

Caitlin Dempsey

Gateway into Bali is an interactive, guided tour of GIS using this colorful Indonesian island country as the backdrop. The application was created by Stereo Aids, an Australian based company. The learning level is aimed towards middle and high school students. This program uses MapInfo running in the background with a customized Internet Explorer as the interface. All the components that are needed are located on the installation CD-ROM. The installation is very straightforward and within 5 minutes I was up and running. The program comes with pre-selected MapInfo databases that are used to illustrate the GIS concepts introduced in the lesson plans. In addition to the GIS module, the CD-ROM also contains "Infobase" which can be used to supplement the GIS program in order to create a well-rounded Geography lesson. As the students work with the layers in the lesson plans, they can enrich their knowledge base through the Infobase. As an added bonus, the third module is an introduction to the Indonesian language. Use this section to learn some basic phrases of Bahasa Indonesia.

The GIS portion of this program contains 10 lessons as well as 5 supplemental projects at the end that take the student through more advanced GIS exercises. The lessons start out teaching the student very basic GIS concepts. Each successive lesson builds on the concepts taught previously. The entire lesson plan runs very smoothly and is carefully written to provide a solid basis in GIS. The early lessons acquaint the students with zooming, panning, scale issues and overlaying layers. As the students progress through the lesson plans, they learn how to work with attribute data and to perform spatial queries. They also learn how to use available datasets to derive other data layers. Data display is also reviewed and students learn about thematic layers and classification.

Each lesson plan builds upon the previous one by reinforcing the newly learned concepts. For example, Activity Two provides a cursory overview of the concept of overlaying themes before progressing towards teaching the concept of queries and statistical calculations. This fortification ensures that the student has a keen grasp of all the functions so that the concept of GIS is truly learned.

At the end of the lesson plan there are five suggested projects that allow the students to carry further the GIS concepts they have learned from the program. These projects provide launching points for further GIS practice. It provides the students the opportunity to use their newly founded knowledge to create independent GIS analysis.

In the process of reviewing the program, I found that "Gateway into Bali" is a well-designed program that works equally well through teacher assistance or by student self-study. The application is well thought out and is realistically paced at the level of middle and high school students. This is a good starter kit for teachers looking to introduce GIS to their classrooms. The CD-ROM contains all the necessary applications and data so no extra software is needed. The minimum requirements (100 MHz, 16MB RAM, 65k colors) allow this application to function on most PCs running Windows (95/98 or NT) Operating software.

I. J. Hardy
Council Member - Geography Teachers' Association of Queensland

The newly released Gateway into Bali CD ROM is an excellent introductory GIS resource. Its step-by-step instructions are perfect for initiating new users (students and teachers!) into the field of GIS. At the same time, the CD is sufficiently comprehensive to be able to used across all year levels in the secondary area. (It would also be appropriate for upper primary students).

The package contains 10 graded activities which take users through the process of building up overlays of spatial data, on a base map of Bali. It is possible to select a variety of attributes and create a series of overlays, which can then be analyzed for further understanding. Suggested analytical exercises are provided and there are ample opportunities for students to synthesize and evaluate information, as they learn more about the physical and cultural Geography of this fascinating northern neighbour.

The CD Rom also contains 5 worthwhile projects which involve students having to apply the skills they learn in the initial activities. Students have to manipulate data in a variety of mediums, including tables and maps. The projects relate to students having to use the CD Rom and internet resources as they analyze information and make decisions relating to health, education, tourism planning, religion and industry and employment in Bali. They are very useful in themselves or as a means of stimulating further investigations into issues. Students can also utilise information provided in the "Infobase" component of the package, which contains detailed information about 18 topics, together with a variety of supporting maps, graphs and photos.

In addition, the CD also has the capacity to allow students to practice their Indonesian language skills, as they listen to native speakers!

A truly interactive resource, the Gateway into Bali CD Rom contains useful GIS (and other) activities which are sufficiently self-explanatory for students to use at their own pace and sufficiently versatile for whole-class activities.

Well worth a look.