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Microsoft Student 2006 claims to “help students find information faster, improve study skills, and accelerate the learning process.” It comes through in only one of those claims. Microsoft Student 2006 will allow for faster finding of some information because it is a collection of general scholastic knowledge in one place.
Microsoft Student 2006 is a variant of Microsoft’s Encarta encyclopedia, or an updated version of Microsoft's Bookshelf program, with a more academic focus. The software is designed to bring helpful information in many high school subjects into a single, easy-to-use interface for students to access without having to search through less important factoids. Along with standard articles and search capabilities it has an atlas, a dictionary, and a language translator that translates to and from English to Italian, German, Spanish, and French. For help in mathematics, it has a computer-screen version of a graphing calculator, though it is more cumbersome to use and not as powerful as many math-only programs such as Mathematica or Maple, and not a handy substitute for an actual graphing calculator. Other subjects covered include Social Studies and History, Geography, English, Science, Arts and Music, and College Prep.
Microsoft Student 2006 focuses in on the academic formulas, tools, and information that a student needs to know or have available to them as they progress from junior high school all the way to college. It has the power of an encyclopedia for Social Studies or Science as well as the graphing calculator and a chart maker for math. It also has MS Office templates for book reports and a foreign language translation dictionary for each subject area. All these are tools that facilitate problem solving; however they are not teaching or learning tools.
Truth in packaging -- Microsoft Student 2006 lacks a kid-appealing title for good reason; it lacks a major amount of kid appeal. Included games are mostly boring match games with limited amounts of variability. As noted by one of our reviewers, "a game of matching the cat picture to the cat breed does not match the educational grade level of the academic tools presented" in Microsoft Student 2006.
The screen for Microsoft Student 2006 is set up like a web-browser. A back-button, forward button, search bar, and a home button are available at the top of the screen. The organization of topics in a list in the main “home” page allows for easy searching by category.
Microsoft Student 2006 uses a backpack for a desktop icon, and that is an apt representation of the program: it is a useful storehouse of scholastic knowledge. A backpack, however, will not help a student learn the information within, merely provide convenient access. Like the encyclopedia Encarta, Microsoft Student will be most helpful to those knowing how to solve the problem, but lacking the necessary tools.
PC: Windows 2000 SP4/ Windows XP, 500 MHz or faster cpu, minimum of 850 MB hard drive space, 256 MB RAM, 16-bit color display, DVD-ROM, 16-bit sound card. Learning Essentials requires Office 2003 or later.return to top of page
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