Messenger - Vol. 3, No. 4, Page 12
Summer 1994
Videodisc lines up plant diseases

     A plant pathology videodisc developed by a UD professor has met
with rave reviews, and more than 30 institutions worldwide have
ordered the program.
     Tom Evans, a plant pathologist in the College of Agricultural
Sciences, developed the videodisc under a USDA grant with Gail
Schumann from the University of Massachusetts and Frank Tainter from
Clemson University. The American Phytopathological Society donated
many of its publication photos for the videodisc, which can be used
either in the classroom or in extension programs.
     Operating on a personal computer with a videodisc player, the
program brings up almost 10,000 images, plus explanatory text. Both
text and images are displayed when students enter key words, such as
the name of a plant or disease.
     "This videodisc makes accessible virtually any image needed to
identify a plant disease in the United States," says Evans.
     Intended as a way to manage and access thousands of slides, the
project has the added benefit of capturing student interest. "Today's
students relate well to a computer format," Evans says. "They are more
used to keyboards than to turning the pages of books."
     At a cost of $500, the videodisc is both cheaper and more
convenient than slides, Evans says. Images can be projected in large
lecture classes or used for individual studies. The system even allows
professors to custom-design tutorials for their students. Both French
and Spanish language versions are being developed.
                                         -Claire McCabe, Delaware '85M