Encyclopedias and Archives

Article excerpt

Let loose "Andrew's Animals" in the weight room for a few weeks, and you might come up with National Georgraphic's Mammals: A Multimedia Encyclopedia. Created in partnership with IBM, Mammals integrates the equivalent of 600 pages of text, 700 pictures, 150 maps, 45 video clips, and 155 animal vocalizations--all on one very affordable CD-ROM optical disc. The encyclopedia was developed with IBM LinkWay.

"It helps kids to hear or see an aardvark, rather than read about one," says Thomas Greaves, manager of educational technology, IBM MultiMedia and Education Division. "With Mammals, there's enough depth for the brightest kids to explore for hours if they want to. They can keep plunging deeper. A regular textbook just can't have that depth. With Mammals, the ability to branch through knowledge bases is driven by the student and engages the student. Engagement is the first step to learning."

National Geographic and IBM soon will be introducing a similar program called The Presidents; in 1992, Picture Atlas of Our World will bring the world's nations to life with high-resolution maps and cultural information.

Not only can special-purpose encyclopedias be created using multimedia, but remarkably, entire conventional encyclopedias can be compressed onto a single CD-ROM, then augmented with multimedia enhancements. The 1991 New Grolier Electronic Encyclopedia, for example, includes the full 21 volumes of the Academic American Encyclopedia, complete with 33,000 articles, 10 million words, 2,000 pictures, 250 color maps, and 30 minutes of CD-quality audio--all on a single CD-ROM. On-line Computer Systems ships a network management package called OPTI-NET that can link up to 100 users to each CD-ROM drive, significantly extending the reach of Grolier's Encyclopedia and other CD-ROM applications.

While today's CD-ROM encyclopedias are both impressive and highly affordable, they don't represent the end of the rainbow for multimedia educational archives. Today, that distinction goes to The Video Encyclopedia of the 20th Century, developed by CEL Educational Resources. A truly mammoth work, The Video Encyclopedia consolidates original film footage of the most significant events of the century. If you hadn't noticed, there have been a lot of significant events to cover--2,338 apparently--which add up to 83 hours of video on 42 videodiscs. An IBM LinkWay interface allows searches by subject name and thematic category, while providing detailed background information for each segment. …