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At a recent technology conference, I purchased several CDs for my
elementary library media center.  I was looking for CDs that are
applicable across several grade levels and curricular areas, have
interesting and easy-to-access  data, and graphically good images
presented in an attractive format.  I wanted images and data that
students could drop to disk and use to represent their insights and
understandings in the form of multimedia productions.

In case it's helpful to any of you LM_NETters as you compile
orders for the coming year, here's a review of what I bought and
what I think of it.

All 8 CDs require MPC or 386sx or better PC with 2MB RAM,
SVGA and a CD-ROM drive and audio card meeting the MPC
specs.  Need Windows 3.1 with the 640X480, 256 color driver
properly loaded.  Some were available for MAC, but I don't know

They were all purchased from
Allied Optical Media Corporation
1450 Boot Road, Bldg 400
West Chester, PA 19380
Tel: (215) 429-3701   FAX: (215) 429-3810

Numbers 1 - 5 have the same basic 'look' to them, and the info is
accessed the same way on each.  All 5 are very easy to use.  All but
one (Dinosaurs, #1) lacked print capability; a SERIOUS drawback,
I think.  None  (except #7 and #8) have the capability to drop an
image or an audio file to a disk,  but with copyright permissions,
you could use capture software to bring images into  multimedia

1.  Dinosaur Discovery: .illustrations, descriptions, cross-referenced
facts on 150 dinos et al. Narrated slide shows, games and activities.
You can search based on location, size, period and order.  You can
print illustration and facts for each dino; you can also print 7 pages
worth of bones to assemble into a dinosaur!

2.  Atlas of U.S. Presidents:  lots of info on presidents up to Bush,
but no way I could find to sort and classify, and no way to print

3.  World Vista for Windows:  Music, flags, audio samples of major
languages , maps, economy, history, politics, people, and pictures
for 217 countries and 57 cities.  Not all options available for all
countries.  Not searchable in the sense of "find all the countries
which ....."  Maps are mediocre.  You won't be troubled by infoglut
in this CD.

4.  American Vista:  lots and lots of data here.  Several different
kinds of maps, plus history, travel (mileage table and road map),
regional speech and music, historical documents, flags, license
plates, symbols, info on urbanization,  immigration, Native
Americans, virgin forests, plus economic, geographic, government
and population data.  Fun to browse!  Need to do pencil and paper
note-taking, because of no print capability.

5.  Multimedia Animals Encyclopedia:  2000 creatures from among
the birds, amphibians, fishes, mammals and reptiles.  There are
illustrations, range maps, habitats, classification, diet, size,
characteristics, sounds, description and conservation status.  Some
parts of this CD are extremely slow to access.  For example, when I
tried "Animal Size," I had to sit and watch the screen for many
seconds while the ten size range options, then ten animal choices
were printed one by one on the screen.  When I clicked on a size
range, the animal list changed - very slowly, line by line.  This was
true of each topic I tried, and it was very frustrating.  Has anyone
out there had better luck with this one?  This would be a valuable
tool except for the speed of access!

6.  Language Discovery:  French, German, Spanish and English
words.  Choose an environment (the kitchen, the school, the
bedroom or several other places), click on an object and it is
pronounced by a native speaker.  One click switches from language
to language.  The words are all spoken in isolation, not in
sentences, which I felt was a drawback.  Possibly usable in an ESL
context, or on conjunction with kids taking foreign language

7.  Mediasource for Windows, Natural Science Library Volume 1:
The format on this one is rather plain and gray,  but it's a useful and
applicable collection of visual images and audio clips, searchable by
subject, image topic, audio topic and object ID#.  Uses pull-down
menus to search and retrieve.  You can easily download pictures or
audio files - individually or in 'sets'  to hard drive.  Right to use
includes the right to copy.  Broad range of natural science topics
covered.  I like this one a lot.

8.  Mediasource for Windows, Historical Library Volume 1:  Like
#7, only historical focus.

Of all 8 CDs, I think #7 and #8 will be most broadly useful, and
would find application through high school level.  I will be looking
for more in this series.  The others CDs will be fun and interesting
but if I had it to do over I'd probably buy only #1, 4, 7 and 8. Then
I'd  ask my LM_NET colleagues for suggestions in the areas of
presidents, a multimedia animals (not just mammals) encyclopedia,
and a world atlas tool.

Hope this is helpful to someone out there!
Vicki Schaeffer
Carl Cozier Elementary School
1330 Lincoln Street
Bellingham, WA 98226-6238

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