Reviewer: Alan Hart, Furze Platt Senior School
Flexidata3 was easily installed on a standalone
PC and across the network. The program loaded quickly, without any delay. This
program offered many opportunities to develop pupils' skills and understanding
of database software. The program provided in-built datasets which were used as
a starting point, although the class collected and entered additional data. In
doing so, pupils gained an understanding of data collection to a strict set of
rules. The software is different from traditional database applications, as it
offers the user a choice of different types of reports. Using the report
facility allows the pupils to produce a table (based on a query), a graph,
frequency table and statistical analysis the pupil can tailor in terms of
content and layout.
An ICT specialist had many good things to say about the program. 'Flexidata has effectively filled a gap in the Key Stage 3 Curriculum. The opening screen of Flexidata shows an idyllic countryside scene of rolling hills and clear skies. It suggests fresh air and space and I must say that working with a software application so carefully and effectively designed for the needs of both teacher and pupil comes as a breath of fresh air. It makes a welcome change from the Microsoft-dominated software environment in which schools work for much of their time.'
Pupils liked the way in which FlexiDATA worked. It had a clear focus on what was expected and was accessible. The in-built datasets saved teaching time and, with additional pupil input, was invaluable in terms of pupil learning. The final results were impressive. The ability to edit all aspects of a finished report allowed pupils to produce good results.
Reviewer: Rhona Dick
FlexiDATA2, suitable for KS2 and up, is from the same company that developed FlexiTREE and it promises to be just as easy to use. The program comes on a floppy disc and requires Windows 3.1 or higher (including Windows XP). Installation is very simple, and, unlike so much software today, a clearly presented manual, which assumes no prior knowledge at all, accompanies it, making it very user friendly. I particularly like the way the manual is laid out, assuming that you will start with handling the data rather than collecting it. Handling data is still a source of difficulty for teachers. Part of the reason for this is that too often there is a dearth of meaningful data for pupils to explore. Creating your own databases, although an essential part of understanding the process, is very time consuming and sometimes means that the key skill of interpreting data is lost. For this reason it is refreshing to find some realistic and extensive data files included within the program. These cover a range of topics that can be used across the curriculum; for example Accidents provides comprehensive data on a range of road traffic accidents. Geographically, there is an entire year's weather data for an undisclosed location, and information about many countries. Clif51 is a census database that could be used in conjunction with QCA History Unit 12 and Solar is space related. I did want to learn more about this last set of data in particular, but couldn't find any reference anywhere; perhaps some background information to set them in context would be useful. One excellent feature is that you can display more than one type of graph clearly on the screen at once. If you have access to a large monitor or data projector this will be particularly helpful in teaching a whole class of children how to select the appropriate graphs to enable easy interpretation of data. Assuming that you have presented your class with an investigation or a problem to solve using one of these data files you will expect them to create some sort of report to support their findings. This is easy enough to do; elements on the screen can be rearranged and text can be added. This is limited to 300 characters, but is none the worse for this. Pupils are encouraged to be succinct, after all the pictorial representation should really speak for itself. Creating data files is easy too; data collection forms are automatically created, but these can be edited to suit your needs. Enter the data, save the file and off you go! Files already saved in other programs can be imported; FlexiDATA currently supports the following formats, Quest, Grass, SID and CSV. I located some old data files and opened them easily in FlexiDATA. I could go on at great length about all the features of the software, but I hope I've given you an idea of its potential. FlexiDATA2 has some very sophisticated features, but is easy to use and gets straight to the point of handling data. The cost represents good value for money too.
Reviewer: Roger Frost
It would be easy to say FlexiDATA 2 is just a database program for schools. Yes, it would be useful to teach about files, fields and records - the stuff that forms the subject of information technology. And delve inside and you find an extraordinarily capable package that ought to suit most secondary levels. For example, you can set it to validate the data you enter, create reports in most formats and create all sorts of graphs. But FlexiDATA 2 also represents something of a discovery. Teachers of, say, history, maths, geography or science who feel they should "do databases" will find it an unfussy, yet versatile tool. Need to carry out a survey? FlexiDATA 2 lets you produce and print a form that you can later use to enter findings. If you had people entering data on many machines, it can search through the network and collate the work. And if you need to experiment with different kinds of graphs, it not only creates a variety of them, but places them side-by-side to compare. FlexiDATA 2 is evidently versatile. It is also the most modest, understated package of its kind.
Surveys conducted over two years by the Fischer
Family Trust generated responses from over 3,500 departments in secondary
schools. The High Impact ICT Resources : Fischer Family Trust Report
summarises details of the ICT resources used in each subject and indicates how
teachers rated the IMPACT of their use upon pupils' learning. All secondary
schools in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales have been sent a copy
of the report.
In the survey of the impact of resources used for Information & Communication Technology, FlexiDATA scored an average of 3.9 out of a maximum possible 5, putting it in 4th= place out of a total of 54.