________________ CM . . . . Volume V Number 2 . . . . September 18, 1998

cover Parliament Hill: An Interactive Tour.

Voyageur Interactive Technologies Limited, 1997.
Windows-486 DX66+, Macintosh-68040+, PO Box 145, Sydney, Nova Scotia, B1P 6G9, 1-888-539-0190. $79.95.

Subject Heading:
Parliament Hill (Ottawa, Ont.).

Grades 5 and up / Ages 10 and up.
Review by Gary Evans.

**** /4

This CD-ROM program provides an interesting experience featuring over 200 panoramic scenes that include more than 4000 photographs taken on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario. It also includes approximately two hours of video about historical and architectural information as well as an introduction to Canada's political process. There are biographies of Canada's Prime Ministers and Governors General as well as key Canadian documents such as the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Constitution and the Precis of Procedure.

      The program could be used by upper elementary to senior high students. Using many cooperative learning ideas, activities emphasize reading, writing, listening and speaking. The students are given ample opportunity to investigate individual research projects that could be completed either in a computer lab setting or by using one computer in a classroom/library setting.

      The "Teachers' Guide" includes an introduction, sample lesson plans with review, evaluation and extension activities for each topic covered [The Tour, Political Process, Biographies and Documents-included for reference purposes]. There are four appendices [A - Different levels of questions for Canadian Parliamentary Challenge with answer keys for the short answer questions; B- Student Assignment Sheet for organization of work; C- Guide to holding a model parliament; and D-Suggestions for organizing a class tour of the Ottawa area]. Permission is granted to reproduce all appendices.

      Seventy-five grade nine students used this program to complete a project on the Canadian Political Process. The program was loaded into one computer in the library where students worked individually or in small groups. They stated that the pictures were good and there was a great deal of valuable, current information that was easily accessed. The information is organized into a well-planned, logical, concise script. Some of the information is read to the students by different people whose pictures appear on the screen beside the script. The voices are easy to listen to, but the music was found to be obtrusive and distracting at times. The windows of information were read with little difficulty as the reading level was appropriate for Grades 5 - 9. The student could read some of the information along with the speaker. It would have been more useful if all the information had been read, especially for younger students and students with reading problems.

     The "Teachers' Guide" is included in the CD-ROM, but it must be duplicated using the user's paper and time. Because some pages have only one or two lines on them, paper waste results. Not having a guide accompanying the CD at the outset is a definite disadvantage for teachers do not have an opportunity to check what is included in the program before looking at it. The guide is not appealing or attractive with plain text and simple format, and no binder is supplied to keep it in when it does get printed. Unlike a book, there is no contents list at a glance.

      The students were unhappy about the length of time that they had to sit through to get past the introduction. There seems to be no way to by-pass this section, and there should be for students who have already been through the program once. The Tour was found to be difficult to follow as people who had not been to Parliament Hill were not able to figure out clearly where they should go next. We found it annoying that we could not shut the program off without watching all the credits at the end every time. Although it would be useful to have a list of current Members of Parliament and their respective ridings and political parties and also the name of the current Speaker of the House, this information is easily accessible on the Internet or in the Canadian Almanac.

      In conclusion, we found the program to be useful, and the students did learn a great deal from using it as evidenced by the completed projects.


Gary Evans is a teacher at George McDowell School in Winnipeg and a lecturer in Social Studies Methods at the Faculty of Education, the University of Manitoba.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364