HelpDisk! v2.2 - 10/10/97
A personal Review by Rod Ward

This program, is a hypertext guide to essay writing. The front screen offers links to various parts of the programs, including a contents list, usage guidance, sample essays, further reading and a glossary of terms.


A brief review of the essay writing process, ranging from analysing a question, through generating ideas, getting and organising material, planning & drafting to editing and presentation. Each area is supported with more detailed material by hypertext links, and a comprehensive glossary.

Many other "study skills" such as note taking, analysis and referencing systems (including from electronic sources) are covered. Issues about assessment systems and plagiarism are touched on.

Complete example essays were included in the program. I am not sure about this feature and wonder how long before a student will submit one, and whether those charged with marking will notice? They do illustrate some of the points made in other parts of the material, but I would guess some students might even visit this section first.

The sample essays covered a range of discipline areas, and ranged in level from Masters to A Level and access to Higher Education courses. The only one I looked at in detail was a demonstration of level and style for an MSc in Health Care of 5000 words on the question ""The current system of rationing health care in the United Kingdom appears to be highly irrational." Discuss.

Design & Technical Issues

Installation was easy and is completed from a single floppy disk. I was using Windows 95 although the program should also run on Windows 3.1

The appearance using I-View (installed with the program) as the browser was clear, however, it would have been useful to have the tool bar, offering options within the program set as "on" as the default setting. In addition the back button did not seem to work on the version available for this review, and the "home" button required reloading of that individual page. The section on screen layout includes a message;


The I-VIEW reader has a short row of pull-down menus at the top of the screen. These should not be used to navigate the program. Some of the options within the menus are disabled. This isn't a wicked plot, and you're not missing anything. It's just to help you stay within the HTML frames

This is one of the less impressive deign features of the program, which make it more difficult to concentrate on the content. The Help function is little more than a contents list, and I found this less than useful.

I also tried to load the programme into Netscape & Internet Explorer Web browsers, I could not see the contents menu which normally appears as a left hand frame. This had to be corrected by opening a start page, rather than the homepage, which would appear most logical, however it did give me a working back button.


This is an interesting attempt to use the capabilities of hypertext as a learning medium. The content seems comprehensive and the language used is appropriate for the intended target audience, however many of the design difficulties are still to be ironed out.

It may well be useful for students who are familiar with the linked environment of html, but this may put others off. Any attempt to help students grapple with some of the writing and assignment requirements in higher education is a positive step. Whether this program is a suitable purchase depends on the students previous level of knowledge and skill, both in study skills and computer use.

The cost of the program for a single user is £14.95, and site or multiple user licences are available.

The program is available from;

Clifton Press
PO Box 100
Manchester M20 6GZ
Tel: +44 (0)161 432 5811
Fax: +44 (0)161 443 2766

Any comments about this review please mail me

Page Created: 10.10.97
Last Updated: 30.8.03