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ABC-CLIO Interactive's The Civil Rights Movement in the United States

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Civil rights is an issue many educators neglect in favor of less controversial topics. But with the new interactive encyclopedia, The Civil Rights Movement in the United States from ABC-CLIO, teachers and students have 500 articles and a host of multimedia materials to explore the subject in depth. More than simply an encyclopedia presented in digital form, the program's rich media and stellar visual presentation make it a worthwhile investment.

The design of the screen is exceptional - crisp, pleasing and easy to navigate. Global navigation icons run across the top of each page, providing a simple and consistent interface. Using sound instructional design, all information is just a couple of clicks away, never buried deep within the program. But the articles themselves lack such attractiveness. While they are detailed and cross-referenced through hot links, they could use subheadings or other devices to help the emerging reader. For example, the absence of a find feature means users cannot easily search for specific text strings within an article. There are also no images within the text of the articles. Ample media links are given, but a simple picture with the main article to set the scene would be a nice addition. The program also lacks an introduction or tutorial. While easy to navigate, some beginning users may benefit from a nudge in the right direction.

These shortcomings are minimal, however, because most users can locate articles from other online and library sources. The media files and the overall design make this interactive encyclopedia a product students will enjoy using. The video clips are long and displayed at a large size. For example, Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech is afforded a full three minutes. The program also provides users with charts, raw data, audio clips and other primary documents to supplement research.

Students can search directly or follow the pre-designed themes, such as education, leadership and activism, which help learners new to the topic. The program also has a few noteworthy features seldom seen on similar products. Users can export not only articles, but the media files as well. For students designing projects, presentations and Web sites, this item almost makes the entire program worth the price.

ABC-CLIO also produces a Web site companion to the CD-ROM. While its design is as flawless as the CD's, the content d'es not help teachers as much as one would hope. There are lesson plans, but they are not very detailed; and the absence of materials such as graphic organizers, worksheets and student handouts mean teachers are left to create their own. Admittedly, the authors view their piece as a research tool, but its quality is high enough that with some work on the support materials, the encyclopedia could become a primary instructional tool and avoid sitting on the library reference shelf. In any case, the program provides an abundance of quality documents not often seen in one place, and it's presented in an appealing manner. It is a standout product and improves any online reference collection.

 

Andrew Taylor
Technology Teacher
Pierce Middle School
Grosse Pointe Park, MI

 

Contact Information
ABC-CLIO Interactive
Santa Barbara, CA
(800) 368-6868
www.abc-clio.com/schools

Operating Systems:
Windows 95, 98 and NTI

Civil rights is an issue many educators neglect in favor of less controversial topics. But with the new interactive encyclopedia, The Civil Rights Movement in the United States from ABC-CLIO, teachers and students have 500 articles and a host of multimedia materials to explore the subject in depth. More than simply an encyclopedia presented in digital form, the program's rich media and stellar visual presentation make it a worthwhile investment.

The design of the screen is exceptional - crisp, pleasing and easy to navigate. Global navigation icons run across the top of each page, providing a simple and consistent interface. Using sound instructional design, all information is just a couple of clicks away, never buried deep within the program. But the articles themselves lack such attractiveness. While they are detailed and cross-referenced through hot links, they could use subheadings or other devices to help the emerging reader. For example, the absence of a find feature means users cannot easily search for specific text strings within an article. There are also no images within the text of the articles. Ample media links are given, but a simple picture with the main article to set the scene would be a nice addition. The program also lacks an introduction or tutorial. While easy to navigate, some beginning users may benefit from a nudge in the right direction.

These shortcomings are minimal, however, because most users can locate articles from other online and library sources. The media files and the overall design make this interactive encyclopedia a product students will enjoy using. The video clips are long and displayed at a large size. For example, Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech is afforded a full three minutes. The program also provides users with charts, raw data, audio clips and other primary documents to supplement research.

Students can search directly or follow the pre-designed themes, such as education, leadership and activism, which help learners new to the topic. The program also has a few noteworthy features seldom seen on similar products. Users can export not only articles, but the media files as well. For students designing projects, presentations and Web sites, this item almost makes the entire program worth the price.

ABC-CLIO also produces a Web site companion to the CD-ROM. While its design is as flawless as the CD's, the content d'es not help teachers as much as one would hope. There are lesson plans, but they are not very detailed; and the absence of materials such as graphic organizers, worksheets and student handouts mean teachers are left to create their own. Admittedly, the authors view their piece as a research tool, but its quality is high enough that with some work on the support materials, the encyclopedia could become a primary instructional tool and avoid sitting on the library reference shelf. In any case, the program provides an abundance of quality documents not often seen in one place, and it's presented in an appealing manner. It is a standout product and improves any online reference collection.

 

Andrew Taylor
Technology Teacher
Pierce Middle School
Grosse Pointe Park, MI

 

X@XOpenTag001X@XOpenTag000Contact Information
X@XCloseTag000X@XCloseTag001X@XOpenTag002ABC-CLIO Interactive
X@XCloseTag002
X@XOpenTag003Santa Barbara, CA
(800) 368-6868
www.abc-clio.com/schools

Operating Systems:
Windows 95, 98 and NTIX@XCloseTag003

This article originally appeared in the 10/01/2001 issue of THE Journal.

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