Resource Database: Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences

Title Teaching Development Issues using Information Technology
Originator Kevin Cook
Department Geography Section, St Mary's University College, TW1 4SX
Tel. +44 (0)181 240 4017
Fax. +44 (0)181 744 2080
E-mail cookk@smuc.ac.uk

This course on development centres on the use of information technology. Its origins lie in the need to split a year-long, pre-modular course into two distinct but related parts. A first semester course provides the necessary theoretical underpinnings. This 13-week, second semester course is assessed by three pieces of written work. Its aim is to extend students' understanding of development issues to develop further their competencies in the use of information technology.

The course involves a range of uses of information technology. Students research a development issue using the Internet. They produce a review of the Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund's CD-ROM 'The Horn of Africa' basing it in an amended article by Hay (1995). Selected reviews are sent to the publisher for comment.

The simulations "Africa in Crisis" and "Bihari Farmer" (Stainforth, 1995) allow the students to answer "what if?" questions. In the former they vary a base model's assumptions and learn what effect their decisions have on the number of deaths from starvation. In "Bihari Farmer" students assume the role of a framing family whose aim is to feed themselves. In their report they have to criticise the assumptions of the model as well as examining the development issues involved.

Students also interrogate several major databases and examine their assumptions and relevance to development issues.

Course evaluations suggest that there has been a considerable improvement in students' confidence in using information technology and also in the level of their critical awareness of development issues. The quality of their writing has also improved.

Relevant References:

Keywords:

Database
Development issues
Information technology
Internet
Written work
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