Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Encarta, Anyone?

Now that I feel I'm settling into the school year, I'm starting to take inventory of what we have set up on our elementary lab computers to see what can stay, what can go, and what I should add.  We have Encarta 2007 on the computers, which sounds like a good thing. One of our elementary teachers likes to use Encarta as a research tool with her students so it's being used.

Then, I remembered back to my days as an English teacher and how I would not allow encyclopedias that were five years or older. I had some not-so pleasant conversations with parents about that, but I wanted my students to have current information. I felt that in this millennium anything more than five years old was probably outdated.  Hmmm... our Encarta 2007 is six years old already (and probably older than that).

So, I started digging to find the latest version of Encarta out there.  Then I was going to look into an upgrade. I was surprised to find that Encarta died in 2009. This is a stunning development! One of the flagships that took information from massive dust-collecting, muscle-building volumes and put it on an easy to carry compact disc is gone forever.

Wow! How the digital world keeps moving.

I guess it's not surprising, given the rise of Google and other search engines. The need for an encyclopedia is so last decade.  Add Wikipedia to the mix, and why would anyone spend money on something so old-fashioned?

That's all well and good for the digital world, but leaves me high and dry when working with lower elementary students.  I don't want them googling every little thing yet.  Not every site was created for a seven- or eight-year old. There are still enough negative vibes out there about Wikipedia and the seemingly unchecked "facts" for me to start pushing that as a viable option.  Even the "use Wikipedia for the resources at the bottom of the post" idea won't work with a third grader. That's too complex a thought.  What's a computer teacher to do?

And, that is why I'm writing this post.  If you teach lower elementary students, how do handle fact finding missions with your kids?  

Thanks for your help!

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