Magazine article Technology & Learning

First Connections: The Golden Book Encyclopedia

Magazine article Technology & Learning

First Connections: The Golden Book Encyclopedia

Article excerpt

Hardware: Stand-alone version: Macintosh (4 Mb) with hard drive and CD-ROM drive. Networked version: Macintosh LC or better on Ethernet network; shared IIci fileserver and CD-ROM drive for full network. Macintosh LC III (8 Mb) with CD-ROM drive for TeachNet (3-10 student stations). MS-DOS computer (6 Mb), with Windows, hard drive and CD-ROM drive.

Emphasis: Reference tool.

Grade level: K-3.

Publisher: Jostens Learning Corporation, 7878 North 16th Street, Suite 100, Phoenix, AZ 85020; (800) 422-4339. (To order stand-alone version, contact: Hartley Courseware, 3001 Coolidge Road, Suite 400, East Lansing, MI 48823; (800) 247-1380.)

Package includes: Stand-alone version: CD-ROM, floppy disk, teacher's guide, and user's guide. Networked version: CD-ROM, teacher's guide, user's guide, idea cards, and ten activity guides.

Price: Stand-alone version: $149.95. Networked version: $200 per student station.

First Connections: The Golden Book Encyclopedia takes a young child by the hand and shows him the delights of exploring the many topics that can be found in an encyclopedia. Designed for children not yet ready to navigate the more complex environments of the full-featured reference books, this multimedia CD-ROM emphasizes ease of use and accessibility without ever skimping on content.

First Connections includes more than 1,500 articles, most with two or more excellent illustrations or photographs. The program also contains over 200 tables, 2,700 pictures, 200 maps, 100 movies or animation sequences, and 500 sound clips to help make the information come alive. A child can hear John F. Kennedy speak, watch a flower bud unfold, or listen to a blizzard blowing.

The program also offers an exceptionally friendly user interface--one that is equally helpful to browser and focused researcher. Opening menu choices let you pick from four approaches to accessing entries. The favorite of the children testing this program was the World of Words option, which brings up a landscape with sections labeled City, Farm, Zoo, History Center, Science Center, and more. Each of these topics leads to another visual map of subtopics. (The Science Center leads to Time, Space, etc. The Zoo leads to the Aquarium, Birds, and so forth.) Some of the subtopics are divided even further. (Mammals will produce another visual map showing Burrowing Mammals, Flying Mammals, etc.)

Children who prefer to go directly to a specific entry can choose the ABC option, where all topics are listed in alphabetical order. Selecting any letter opens up an index of all the topics beginning with that letter, and simply highlighting and clicking takes you straight to the article.

A third option, Sights and Sounds, rewards the user in search of the program's bells and whistles. From here, you can access articles through animated sequences, graphics, and sound recordings. Most useful in this section was the extensive and colorful selection of world and regional maps.

Seek and Find, the fourth option, allows children to choose a category such as U.S. Presidents, Space, or Invention from a menu of 15 topics. Selecting a category opens a set of questions designed to encourage research and exploration. The questions range from the information retrieval type--Is the moon a satellite or a planet? …

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