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ED-u-rate GuruNet Reviews

GuruNet, a software reference tool from Atomica Corporation, offers instant access to more than 100 dictionaries and encyclopedias, dozens of authoritative reference sources, and the best sites on the Web. GuruNet works with any Windows program; users can search for information on more than a half million topics or "alt-click" screen text in any program to bring up concise definitions, descriptions, explanations, information, images, and more about the selected topic or text. Included: Teacher and student comments about the software.

Recently, Education World reviewers who, in this case, included K-12 technology coordinators, K-12 classroom teachers, and college professors, checked out GuruNet. The reviewers were asked to use GuruNet for at least one month in their classrooms and in their professional and personal lives, to note specific strengths, weaknesses, and/or quirks of the program, to rate various qualities of the software on a scale of 0-4, and to record their personal observations -- both positive and negative.

The results are in -- and this is what our reviewers (and their students!) had to say!

Click here to see educators' reviews of other products including Kidspiration, Timeliner, Graph Master, Adobe Photoshop, NetSupport School, NetOpSchool, FlashMaster, the Pasco Science Probe, and more!


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I love GuruNet! I use it every day.

I used GuruNet as a reference tool while researching some staff development topics. With the multiple search engine windows, I was able to find many resources. I've shown GuruNet to many of my colleagues and they all agree that it's a wonderful resource. I also had the opportunity to demonstrate it to a group of pre-service teachers. All agreed that it would be a valuable classroom tool.

I used GuruNet in a variety of ways. I posted my spelling words, which happened to be our social studies vocabulary words, on our school Web site. On a Monday, I introduced the words to the students using GuruNet and "Alt-clicked" each word to hear its audio pronunciation. The first time I clicked the speaker icon and the computer said the word, Jake let out a "Sweeeeeeet!" The students loved it! We also tried the American Sign Language video clips on many of the words. The clips are small and load instantaneously. We played a game in social studies in which the groups in my classroom had to guess their social studies vocabulary words from their definitions. I happened to remember the ASL signs for two of the words. The students knew immediately which words I was giving them.

I made a PowerPoint presentation using the Advanced Image Search, which made it easy to find large images of our vocabulary words. The students worked in groups to identify the vocabulary word from the images in PPT. They loved figuring out the words from these images. I also included in this PPT GuruNet's short video clips of the vocabulary words. This activity seemed to engage my inclusion students and my visual learner in particular, although all the students enjoyed it.

It's keeper software!

What a wonderful program! I think this should be on every computer in grade 4 and up!

I posted the GuruNet link in my newsletter and other teachers are raving about it.

Several of my students brought their parents in at Back to School Night to show off GuruNet. Some of my students are using the trial version right now and I'm sure their parents will upgrade to the full version.

I like the fingertip access to help. I also like that it is already filtered for student use -- and that it thinks beyond the obvious, bringing in all different kinds of information, including sign language.

I tried looking up a nonsense word. The program knew it was a nonsense word and referred me to the Web site from which the word originated. GuruNet also provided me with alternatives to what the word might be.

The program was helpful and easy to use. Because there's no need to enter another program, I saved time. I was not reluctant to look up words, even for pronunciation, where otherwise I would probably have skimmed by them. Very cool!

The program is easy to handle and self-explanatory. The Web sites seem to be very U.S. oriented, though. That is, when we asked for information of other countries we did not get the needed information. Also, language wise, although it says it can be translated, my Korean and Mexican students were not very pleased with the translations. A Korean student commented that the translations were not complete.

This software is incredible; everyone should be made aware of its existence.

This software would be invaluable in any classroom environment. If each computer in a school district possessed this software, oh my, the amounts of information that would be at their fingertips! In today's technologically advancing society, where every second counts, this software would be very attractive to students who do not want to have to take minutes to look something up in a dictionary or online search when seconds with GuruNet would suffice.

This is a real time saver and a great alternative to search engines.

I liked that everything was easily accessible and organized into categories. It also was nice that I could search for a topic and then choose the "images" tab. Everything was very direct and straightforward.

I used GuruNet to search for information on butterflies for a unit plan. It pointed me in the right direction to find beautiful images of butterflies. My sister used it to look up definitions for her reading class.

This is a great program to use when you have to do research. It takes you to the best Web sites about a topic. It seems very reliable. It's also very convenient.

I highly recommend this program for students of any age. It would be a vital learning tool in any classroom.

It was a neat tool; I enjoyed using it and just playing around with it.

The program gives reliable information on a large variety of topics. I always like resources that get me basic information in a straightforward way. Sometimes general Web searches lead me to follow links that are not useful. GuruNet doesn't do that.

I would definitely recommend GuruNet to anyone with a direct connection to the Internet. With a dial-up connection, we don't stay connected all the time, so initially there is that wait. That would limit how much we would use the program.

This program would be especially helpful for high school and college students. It gives a vast majority of options to the user.

I like the topic bar; I found it really convenient because I didn't have to search through a list of alphabetical names, for example. Overall, I was very impressed with GuruNet.

I used GuruNet to find information on U.S. presidents for a PowerPoint presentation. I also used it for my own pleasure; for example, I located information on sporting events and athletes. Also, I checked GuruNet's local news.

This program was very useful, reliable, and easy to use. I found it was a resource and tool that I started to look at every day, to see what might be going on that I had missed. Any teacher who doesn't obtain a copy of this program is foolish.

I would definitely recommend the purchase of this program. The price is very reasonable for the amount of information available. I would buy it for personal use as well. I think it would make an excellent Christmas or graduation present!


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I had no problem whatsoever with the installation of GuruNet. I downloaded the software, entered the activation code, and I was done!

You Review GuruNet

Do you agree with our reviewers' rating of GuruNet? To check out GuruNet for yourself, go to Get GuruNet and download GuruNet Free, which includes the dictionary, thesaurus, spell checker, word translator, "Alt-click" feature, and a seven-day trial of the full version of GuruNet. Also available is GuruNet Homework Edition, a child-friendly version of the software.

I had absolutely no problem with installation. It was done before I knew it. GuruNet puts an icon in your desktop tray for easy access. It also opens on Start-up.

I had no trouble downloading the program, and it didn't take long even though I have a dial-up Internet connection.

I was really surprised with how quickly GuruNet installed. I downloaded it onto my home computer, which often is a slow process, especially later in the evening. It downloaded quickly and installed within a minute. The popup screens that go along with the installation are very easy to understand, and I think it would be almost impossible to mess this step up.

I like this program and it is very easy to use, but when I installed it I received a message that said GuruNet detects that you are not on the Internet. I didn't know you had to be on the Internet to use this program; a lot of classroom don't necessarily have access to the Internet, or the teacher might have something set up so kids can't get on the Internet.


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This is incredibly easy to use. I'm spoiled already! I had to use a computer recently that didn't have GuruNet and I missed it. It's so convenient -- instant access.

At first, I didn't know what GuruNet was all about. When I took their online tour, my sound was muted -- as it usually is -- and I had no idea what the tour was illustrating. Later, it dawned on me that there probably was audio and Eureka! the tour made a lot more sense!

GuruNet is extremely easy to use. The students picked it up right away. That's really one of its best features, anyone can make use of the technology, and it's pretty amazing!

The content loads very quickly and never failed to produce results. Carmen, a sixth grader, commented, "The speed is awesome!" Nick said, "I think it's fast, fun, and easy!" The students found the floating bar a little annoying, but when they found they could move it, it didn't bother them.

The program was easy to use. The only complaint I had was that there was so much information, it took a little while to get to the end of certain lists. I looked up circles in the math section, and I never even reached the end of the list. I realize that means that there are a lot of resources, but it was slow scrolling down the page.

This program is very user-friendly and anyone who is able to use a computer would certainly be able to use this program effectively.

When I clicked on "Math," I received a great many topics. I wanted to get to the titles with G as the first letter, but I found no quick way of getting to the letter G. I noticed that there was a search bar. However, if somebody doesn't know how to exactly spell the topic's name, the scrolling time will annoy both student and teacher. Another problem was that when I scrolled down, the documents had to keep loading. That was annoying.

Tabs were clearly marked. Bright colors and large buttons make navigation easy.

GuruNet is easy to use, but my 11-year-old son was a bit confused because not all words took him to the same tab. The speaker for hearing the pronunciation of a word is on the dictionary tab -- but some words go to the Topic Book tab or to Personalities or straight to Google. He was confused by the lack of a speaker.

It's not always easy to tell the difference between GuruNet information and Google links.

The content loads a little slowly on a dial-up connection, but changing tabs is quick.

"Alt-click" seems somewhat cumbersome for grade-school children. For ease of use, we preferred the topic bar.

We used GuruNet for word definitions, pronunciations, thesaurus, and to find images. It's a valuable resource for book reports.

This is a user-friendly program for anyone who can read and use a computer. It gives a lot of information on a lot of topics and is an easy program to search in. I especially like the option of Alt-clicking any word or phrase in any program. Whether the information is in GuruNet or not, GuruNet will find the information. I especially liked all the options GuruNet offers. As soon as I clicked a word, many options (encyclopedia, pictures, news, language, dictionary, and more) were at my fingertips.

I really like the set up of the program. It's easy to locate the information I'm looking for. The little pull-out utility is very nice to have in case you close the GuruNet window by mistake. You always have the ability to quickly access the program.

When you place the cursor over the buttons, I think the explanation of what the button is for should appear directly under the cursor, not at the bottom of the toolbar. Most of the programs I use work that way, and a first time user might not know to look at the bottom of the taskbar.

I occasionally had problems finding my way back to where I wanted to be. Some of the buttons are not depicted clearly enough to allow me to know what they're supposed to be used for. For example, I can't figure out why I can't access the button that looks like the American flag.

The documents provided with GuruNet are very easy to read and understand, and they are set up in an appropriate way.

When I "Alt-clicked" a word, I couldn't quite understand how the program knew the word I was pointing to, because nothing came on the screen that said it was retrieving information; it just went right to the GuruNet screen and then a message came up with the word I had clicked. It should say something like "Hold while GuruNet accesses the dictionary," or something like that, not just "Retrieve" in the top left corner.

It's great that GuruNet is associated with MSNBC news, because it gives students an opportunity to see what's going on in the world, but when you go to a page from MSNBC, there are too many side links that can take kids to other sites.

I thought it took a long time to download the program (but maybe my computer is just slow). The download is well worth the wait though.

I did not like the fact that GuruNet started immediately when the computer booted up. I think it should be the user's option to turn GuruNet on or off.

The sign language option was terrific. It needs the QuickTime plugin to work, however, and I'm wary of students and plugins. If they're at home, it's no problem, but in a lab environment, plugins should be loaded already.

The green color used on the active screen bothered my eyes after a while and I found it ugly from the start.


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The program ran extremely well. I had a slow video load at home, but that's the Internet connection I have. I live in a rural area and don't have the convenience of speed.

The program was error-free, both in the classroom and at home. It loaded very quickly on our T1 line at school and on my DSL at home.

Using GuruNet to look up a word was much faster than looking up the word in a dictionary. Students, for the most part, would not bother getting a dictionary, but they did use GuruNet to look up a word.

The sound was amazing! We had a lot of fun using the computer-generated pronunciation. It sounded like a real person -- maybe it was! Both male and female voices were pleasant and had the proper inflection.

Navigation was intuitive and reliable. We (the students and I) investigated all of the tabs across the top.

I thought the navigation was difficult to use. It's almost too much for a student below fourth grade.

The program is bug free, easy to navigate.

The voice used to pronounce words is strong and clear. The media loads correctly, but it took longer than an impatient person like myself wants to wait.

The video is clear; not too cluttered or fuzzy, and the sound seems good.

The navigation seems fine to me. I had no trouble moving throughout the program, I actually enjoyed traveling through it.

Overall, the sound was accurate. A few words were spoken too fast and therefore, were not as clear.

The program gave very prompt results when searching for a topic.

I did not run into any errors while searching through GuruNet, although in some cases downloading the images took several minutes. That might not have been GuruNet's fault, however.

I didn't experience any problems with the GuruNet program, except when I was trying to download a media click from the Today Show about Hurricane Isabel It didn't download. I clicked Free Video and another window came up. So I tried a couple more times and the same thing kept happening.

This software is fantastic. The breadth of information is extensive. In one particular instance, I received a video clip of someone translating the word "community" into sign language! Such an incredibly meticulous body of information for free consumption by the public sold me on the software entirely.


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I haven't had a bad experience with GuruNet. I especially like the "Alt-click" feature that gives you information on the word clicked -- no matter what application the word is in.

My high school son used GuruNet for a research project and liked it. He liked the multiple search engines because he thought he got more for his efforts! My oldest son uses it at college and it has been a lifesaver for him --especially when doing those 'late night' assignments. The access to the general reference section has saved him a lot of headaches!

The program had the "Did you mean?" function when students misspelled a word when searching for a topic, a feature I didn't discover until I redid the tour.

Occasionally, the program came up with so many categories for a word that my students were a little lost as to which to choose. (Of course, they would have been lost in a standard dictionary or encyclopedia too.)

GuruNet saved students time when they needed to find the meaning of a word or search for information or pictures. For instance, if you Search for King Tut it will produce a short synopsis of his life, related links, and images. GuruNet uses Google Image Search as a resource for pictures. Google is not one of our district's approved search engines and I didn't let the students view the images on their own. I did find one questionable image when I was previewing some results. I personally use Google all the time, but I could not tell if this was the version deemed "Safe Search" or not.

I liked the short synopsis of information GuruNet would retrieve when searching a term. We used it in science to go over vocabulary words for a unit on cells. The students could read a relatively short definition of a word, view images Google had found, and follow other related links. I did preview the words we looked up for science because of our district's AUP. I was still a little unsure that Google would pull up the images I had previously viewed, but it went well. The students really enjoyed the American Sign Language that many of the nouns displayed. It really helped some of the visual learners, because the signs often mimicked the definitions! Patrick said, "It was really, really, neat and awesome!"

Although the program is useful, the same information can be obtained through good searches in a search engine.

The program saves time because it has many functions all under one roof, so to speak.

I don't know where to begin! The limitless possibilities of this software are inconceivable to me. In one instance, I needed to know the meaning of the word "submandibular," so I used GuruNet and I received a definition in a matter of seconds. Such reliability and accuracy saved me the time of looking up the information online or in a dictionary. I can't say enough about how much I enjoyed using this software!

The GuruNet spell checker option was the best. I often misspell words when I'm typing, so this option came in quite useful. This is a great tool for my students to use when writing papers.

I really liked this program. I found it very useful. I wish I'd had it while we were doing PowerPoint presentations on pets and geometric shapes. I found great information on both topics in GuruNet. It would have saved me a lot of the time I spent searching on Google. I also appreciated that references were given in the topic areas, so I could get more information, if necessary.

GuruNet saves a lot of time when writing papers, because everything you need or have questions about is right at your fingertips.

This program is quick and effective, which keeps the learner engaged and makes learning interesting. It increases the likelihood that students will learn the definition of an unknown or uncertain word.

I really liked the thesaurus; it's something students need as a resource, especially when writing papers. I also liked the currency converter because it is updated daily.

This definitely is a useful program. The encyclopedia is a valuable resource. We loved the topic bar. The window is easy to shrink and expand -- and it's always accessible. GuruNet is very convenient to use.

Because we don't stay connected to the Internet all the time, I liked the icon in the system tray that kept the window from displaying on startup.

I found GuruNet very useful. The program is so broad that you could explore a topic with multiple results. It felt like I had all the information the Internet provides in one program.

The topics are easily found and accessible. The information is quickly narrowed down and helps users focus their topics into more specific areas. For example, if you want to research dogs, you could very easily narrow the topic down to a specific breed. Some of the subtopics are things the researcher might never have about on their own.


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I didn't need technical support, but under Help on the menu bar, there's a feedback form and an in-depth online help feature that has FAQ's and ideas for troubleshooting. This is available anytime you're in the program.

I didn't have to use technical support at all, but a variety of options -- a feedback form, a Flash Tour (an online demo), and online help -- is available.

The program is so well designed that you don't need extra help.

I didn't have any particular instances where I had to use the help features. The tutorial that's available immediately after the initial download was concise and informative; it told me what I needed to know to get started and guided me in the proper direction.

I didn't need any tech support, but I did find the help tool very useful. I had trouble because my computer was saying that I was not online. I went to the help tool and it told me what I could do to fix the problem. I did this while I was using the program.

I really didn't need any help, however, I checked out the help option and felt it was adequate, although I found some of the explanations a little confusing, especially for younger users.

I really missed a search index to find help on a specific topic. I was trying to find a way to reorder the default tabs -- I did not find any reference in help. When using the program initially, I didn't notice the speaker for pronunciations. I looked in help, and didn't find it there either.

The demo that was listed under the help menu gave a very detailed overview of the program. I learned how to access the many different options available through GuruNet. The online help was very concise and would help anyone, no matter what their level of experience with computers.

Under the help menu, "How to use" could be more detailed. I found it easier to just try and navigate the program myself, because the help wasn't very in-depth.

In general, when I encountered a problem, I was able to find my way out of it by using the help menu -- which saved a lot of time and frustration.


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This review is provided as a service to Education World readers. It reflects the observations and experiences of independent teacher volunteers, not of Education World editors. The review does not constitute an endorsement of the product by the reviewers or by Education World.

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