Reviewed by 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 yearís 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 couldnít 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 Iíve 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, at £48 for a single stand-alone, with increments for two, four, eight and sixteen-machine licences machine (£144) but it will only cost £120 for a primary school site licence; these last two permit you to run the program on a network.

For more details about the program see the website http://www.flexible.co.uk/FlexiDATA2.html or contact
Flexible Software Ltd
PO Box 100
OX13 6PQ
Tel: 01865 391148
Fax: 01865 391030
Schools and colleges can request a 30-day evaluation copy.

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