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Load 'Em Up: Reference Software Picks

Technology Center

The Education World Tech Team shares its picks of the best software programs for classroom use. In this article, our experts reveal their choices for reference software. Don't miss the rest of this multi-part Ed World series: Load 'Em Up: The Best Software in the Education World!

Reference software includes such common reference tools as dictionaries and encyclopedias. Most of the recommended programs are available on CD or online for an annual fee. Online versions allow frequent updating of information.

No clear winner appeared in this category; most of our tech team members indicated that they simply used whatever was available -- or nothing at all -- and had no preference for one over another. Because of a clear lack of enthusiasm for any one program, we didn't thinkwe had enough information to award a program the "gold star." We'd love to hear your thoughts, however!

In this category, Encarta and Compton's are available only for Windows. Grolier's and World Book are available for both Windows and Macintosh.

Reference Software Comparison

Installability Usability Performance Usefulness Support
Compton's Encyclopedia
Encarta Reference Library
Grolier Encyclopedia
World Book Online

The Gold Star rating was determined by considering each program's total score along with the number of recommendations submitted for the program and the tenor of reviewers' comments about it.

* based on results from a single evaluator

Add Your Vote!
The reviews and recommendations in this article represent the opinions of only our Tech Team experts. If you would like to add your rating to theirs, or if you want to rate and review another productivity program's suitability for classroom use, e-mail me at [email protected].


The Best Software in the Education World!

Click a category below to learn which software programs our Tech Team members recommended and how they rated the quality, performance, and usefulness of each!

* Productivity Software

* Presentation Software

* Curriculum Software

* Keyboarding Software

* Web Authoring Software

* Concept-Mapping Software

* Classroom Management Software

* Reference Software

Don't miss the main story of the series, Load 'Em Up: The Best Software in the Education World!

"At our school, Grolier Encyclopedia is used most often in upper elementary grades because of its availability," said Libby Adams.

"We have some copies of Encarta Reference Library, Grolier Encyclopedia, Compton's, and World Book Online," Betty Kistler told Education World. "I prefer World Book."


Name: Compton's Encyclopedia
Manufacturer: The Learning Company
Available Platforms: Windows
Approximate Price: $19.99
Grade Level: 4-12

Name: Encarta Reference Library
Manufacturer: msn
Available Platforms: Windows
Approximate Price: $74.95
Grade Level: 4-12, adult

Name: Grolier Encyclopedia
Manufacturer: Grolier
Available Platforms: Macintosh, Windows
Approximate Price: Contact Grolier for pricing
Grade Level: 4-12, adult

Name: World Book Online
Manufacturer: World Book
Available Platforms: Windows, Macintosh
Approximate Price: $49.95 (annual subscription)
Grade Level: 4-12, adult


Article by Linda Starr
Education World®
Copyright © 2001 Education World