Encyclopaedia Britannica 2006 DVD
If information is power, you ought to be all set for world domination – or at least to be crowned a brain box – with this repository of 180,000 articles. It’s handily split into three sections, each suitable for a different age group. Elementary is for young children; Student for older kids and those at college; while the main blue Encyclopaedia Britannica pane gives adults access to the most advanced and detailed information.
Each section is colour-coded and has its own home page from which you can navigate to all the encyclopedia’s categories: Timeline, Dictionary, Atlas, Homework, Games and Activities, plus a Browse tab. Articles viewed subsequently appear as tabs stored below the navigation bar, so you can quickly jump to them if you need to refer back. Any article you’re likely to need for future reference can be saved as a bookmark.
To the left of the viewing pane is a search bar that lists alphabetically all the articles in Britannica’s database. It has a basic keyword search tool so you can jump to specific topics and an Advanced Search lets you add criteria. However, we were disappointed to find no results at all on several topics we entered.
The Timeline is another good starting point as, the Elementary section aside, it’s split into the sort of detail you’re after, such as Daily Life, Exploration or Medicine. Similarly, the Atlas offers great detail on populations, cultures and geographies. However, our first attempt at using the GeoAnalyzer came up with a dead link.
If the linear approach to seeking out information seems rather dry, you can try Brainstorming. Rather than scrolling down alphabetical lists of encyclopaedia entries, you can use the Brainstorm feature to drill down into subject areas and discover links you might not otherwise pursue. This approach can be rewarding.
Click on a succession of proffered links and Britannica magically updates topic associations before your eyes. For example, searching in the Collectibles section we were offered vast numbers of associated areas of interest. Clicking on Shells brought up types of seashell but also provided the option of finding out about shells used to make buttons and other forms of decoration. We were then presented with a dizzying array of art-related links and items categorised by specific cultures and religions.
Britannica also contains practical elements, such as the Homework and Games and Activities tabs – even adults get self-study exercises – with PDF worksheets based on both details found in Britannica itself and approved external online links.
Britannica is jam-packed with information and is a useful interactive reference resource. We like the way information is divvied up by suitability for its audience, although some of the written documents are likely to confound the 10-year-olds using the Elementary section.