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Encarta Africana 2000 Vividly Conveys Black History

Microsoft's Encarta Africana 2000 is a CD-ROM encyclopedia about black history and culture coedited by Harvard University professors Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Kwame Anthony Appiah. Inspired by W.E.B. Du Bois' dream to compose an encyclopedia of African history, the professors teamed up with Microsoft to make Du Bois' dream a reality.

Through interactive multimedia technology, the encyclopedia brings to life the rich history and culture of Africa and people of African descent. The comprehensive CD-ROM includes over 3,600 articles, 800 Web links, 200 sidebars, an interactive timeline, 8 virtual tours, and 2,900 photos, audio clips, videos, maps and other multimedia elements.

New features include a Civil Rights chronology, a music timeline, and a library of 139 publications by African-American authors. A research organizer helps students collect information for written reports, homework and presentations. A closed captioning option makes the software accessible to the hearing impaired, and for those with impaired vision, Encarta Africana 2000 will read any text aloud using integrated voice technology. Microsoft Corp., Redmond, WA, (425) 882-8080, www.microsoft.com/ encarta/africana.

Sun Offers Desktop Software Free to Educators

Following the acquisition of Star Division Corp. by Sun Microsystems, Inc., Sun is releasing StarOffice 5.1, a full-featured personal productivity suite that runs on Solaris, Linux, Windows and OS/2 platforms, and is available in eight languages. StarOffice 5.1 provides Microsoft Office compatible word processing, spreadsheet, graphic design, presentations, HTML editor, e-mail/news reader, scheduler, and database functions. The product, offered free to the education community, is a powerful, cross-platform office productivity suite. Open APIs and file formats allow for seamless integration with existing applications. Educators requesting the product will get a special Education Agreement for unlimited distribution within a school or district. Sun Microsystems, Inc., Palo Alto, CA, (800) 555-9SUN, www.sun.com/staroffice.

Online Reader Service #414

Biodiversity and Conservation Highlighted in CD-ROM

Island Press' CD-ROM, Conserving Earth's Biodiversity with E.O. Wilson, introduces a new way to study and teach conservation biology and environmental science. Based on the teachings and writings of renowned biologist Edward O. Wilson, this educational tool is an engaging and thorough introduction to a field of critical importance. Wilson introduces a wide variety of topics, helping students understand the major aspects of conservation biology, including its biological, social, political and economic elements, and describes what needs to be understood in order to protect biodiversity.

The program allows users to interact with the materials and examine topics in depth. Ten participatory exercises enable students to explore quantitative topics in conservation biology, while 15 detailed maps illustrate topics such as deforestation patterns, distribution of ecosystems, location of critical conservation regions, human population density, current land cover, and plant diversity. Wilson shares his knowledge via video clips and questions for further thought. Detailed case studies provide further insight into conservation issues, and more than 1,000 full color photographs illustrate the breathtaking diversity of life. …