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CD Encyclopedia software
When purchasing a CD encyclopedia, potential buyers must first know if it will provide answers to their families' questions. World Book 1999 Multimedia Encyclopedia addressed all three of our kids' research trial questions, although not always with the amount of detail desired.
World Book provided excellent answers to out middle school student's question about the difference between mitosis and meiosis, and our high schooler's question about the history of impeachment in the US. Both answers were easy to find, factual, thorough, and clear.
World Book 1999 was less helpful on the grade-school question about ligers and tiglons. It noted that lions and tigers had mated in captivity, and that their offspring were variously called ligers and tiglons -- but provided no further information.
Of equal importance in the search for a good family CD encyclopedia is "Are the answers easy to find?" If information is difficult to access, it is fairly worthless -- especially if children are the primary users.
World Book includes a two-part main menu. "Browse" allows the user to browse the entire encyclopedia at random, or customize by selecting a category and/or content type. "Search" allows the user to navigate his or her way through the program using AND/OR/NOT entry boxes to combine up to three search terms.
SuperKids' parent and child reviewers found the layout to be clear, the text appropriate for grade-school to junior high children, and the program simple to use.
The program's User's Guide gives in-depth explanations of the program's various functions and is especially helpful in detailing five mini-programs, called 'Homework Wizards', that are designed to guide students doing research and writing reports.
Once connected, we discovered that World Book's Internet search option is a little different from the others we reviewed, in that it begins with a list of pre-selected sites. The advantage of this, is that World Book's presumably knowledgable editors have selected great sites. The disadvantage, is that sites can change, and/or disappear. In our search for information about impeachment, we encountered "link-rot" (links to sites that no longer exist), and several links of dubious quality/accuracy/relevance. For example, we're not sure why they chose to include a link to a "Monica Mania" page. We'd suggest that future versions of World Book stick to a simple link to a page on their own website.
PC: Windows 95/98/NT 4.0 or higher, 486DX/66 MHz or faster cpu, 39 MB hard drive space (+8 MB if Internet access desired), 16 MB RAM, 16-bit color display recommended, Double-speed or faster CD-ROM, 16-bit sound card, mouse; modem and Internet connection required for online accessreturn to top of page
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