National Geographic Online
Kurtz, Alice, Multimedia Schools
Located online at: http://www. nationalgeographic.com; AOL Keyword: Natgo
Source: National Geographic Society, 114517th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; Phone: 800/647-5463; Web: http://www.nationalgeographic.com/.
Access Fee: None.
Audience: Elementary school to high school students, teachers, and adults. Note the Kids' Segment for 8- to 10-year-olds.
Format: Web site with multimedia, including text, graphics, interactive features, and live-camera access to selected subjects.
Minimum System Requirements: A computer with modem access, sound and video cards, and a fast Internet connection.
Description: National Geographic Online is a huge Web site that offers a cornucopia of items, ranging from excerpts from the organization's latest magazines, to information on geographic and historical expeditions, to video and audio clips from the television program National Geographic Explorer. The site changes its main feature daily, but continually offers a selection of favorite features, along with games, simulations, and lessons through a sidebar menu.
Installation/Access: The site loaded in a reasonable time; all areas were fairly easy to access. The site index available in a sidebar is a very handy feature for finding topics or just browsing the range of available resources. The one annoying feature is the perpetual pop-up window that offers a special on National Geographic Magazine. Installation/Access Rating: A
Content/Features: This comprehensive Web site offers a host of opportunities to discover in-depth information about various topics covered in the National Geographic publications and on the TV program National Geographic Explorer.
Examples of the range of material will be highlighted in this review, but a potential user should browse the site index to see the vast array of offered topics and activities.
There is something for everyone at this site. Teachers can find lesson plans for geography, as well as interactive expeditions to enhance classroom topics. Users of all ages can search a series of indices including the National Geographic publications, a dynamic atlas, and special online adventures and simulations.
Children 8-10 years old can read excerpts from the latest edition of World, find games, puzzles, animal features, and the latest news about the state of the natural world.
A site index allows quick access to 19 separate areas of information. These include interactive programs and forums in areas such as Archaeology, Paleontology, History and Conservation, Maps, Photography, News, Kids, Parents, Live Events, Exhibitions, and a shop for online purchases of the society's publications, books, and videos.
A sidebar listing assorted Guides lays out the general menu. Teachers, parents, and kids have their own guides. Each offers activities, links, news, and access to appropriate segments of the site.
The teacher guide, for example, gives the user an annotated description of Map Machine, lessons that correlate with upcoming National Geographic TV programs, and featured lesson plans. The guide also links to the teacher store and the Xpeditions segment.
The Kids' Guide is updated monthly. At the time of this review, features about sharks, a video on sun protection, and access to articles from both World and National Geographic for Kids were accessible from this page. A Print 'N Go Coloring Book can be selected here. A user can select one of 35 animals to print in outline form; information about the animal is also provided.
Map Machine offers a fairly complete online atlas. Rich arrays of physical and political maps are available for viewing or printing. These range from street maps to world ecosystem maps. Accompanying statistics--such as population, literacy, or religions--are based on 2000 Census figures. The map segments were occasionally slow to load and some of the maps were blurry, but for online use the maps were very comprehensive. …