Nothing beats the World Wide Web for up-to-the minute information. But for depth and breadth, encourage your students to engage in topical research using an information-rich multimedia encyclopedia on CD or DVD. You can't go wrong with any of the following titles — and you don't need an Internet connection in your classroom to use them.

Encarta Reference Suite 2001

Combining five products in a seven-CD package, this educational software powerhouse consists of Encarta Encyclopedia Deluxe 2001, Encarta Interactive World Atlas 2001, Encarta World English Dictionary 2001, and Encarta Africana (3rd Edition). The suite's resource collection is amazingly rich: The Encarta Encyclopedia for example, boasts more than 227,400 articles, 25,300 photos and illustrations, 290 video and animation clips, and 81,000 sound clips and pronunciations, as well as a timeline, homework center, and data-gathering tool. The dictionary comprises five integrated reference resources, a thesaurus, a book of quotations, an almanac, a computer and Internet dictionary, plus a style manual. Encarta Reference Suite 2001 also delivers instant access to Encarta.com (http://encarta.msn.com), Microsoft's portal for encyclopedia updates, links, and Princeton Review's College Search engine.

Platform: Windows 2000, 95, 98, NT 4.0
Microsoft, $74.95 (SRP); 800-426-9400; www.microsoft.com Grades 4 and up.

2001 Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia, School Edition

Grolier's new multimedia encyclopedia ships on two CDs containing 38,000 articles, 15,500 images, and 16 hours of sound. Tight integration with the Web links users to an additional 22,000 articles, plus easy access to more than 50,000 Grolier-selected sites, free monthly encyclopedia updates, and information supplements provided by the online editions of the Encyclopedia Americana and the New Book of Knowledge. Entries in the CD encyclopedia are organized hierarchically by topic, while the search option locates articles by keyword(s). In addition, the encyclopedia boasts an interactive atlas featuring geopolitical maps, plus articles about land, resources, people, economic activity, history and government. Twenty-four timelines and 113 chronologies graphically demonstrate relationships among historical events, while an Event Browser delivers information about particular years. Students who would like help doing research should visit the program's Research Center to take advantage of 140 curriculum-based Research Starters. Teachers will appreciate the 143-page Teacher's Guide with its suggestions for encyclopedia-based research activities.

Platform: PowerMac or Windows 2000/98/95/NT
Grolier, a Scholastic Company, $79.95;
203-797-3530; www.gi.grolier.com Grades K–8

Britannica 2001 DVD

So much more than just the entire text of the 32-volume Encyclopedia Britannica, Britannica 2001 on DVD includes more than 83,000 articles, 15,000 illustrations and photos, an interactive atlas with 1,600 maps, the last seven Britannica Yearbooks, six hours of multimedia audio and video, interactive timelines examining history from fourteen perspectives, and Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary. Encyclopedia Spotlights offer a multimedia look at special topics with many links to related encyclopedia articles. The Research Assistant function facilitates information-gathering by allowing students to attach notes and bookmarks to articles they locate in a search. As a bonus, there's a strong tie-in to Britannica Online (www.britannica.com), Britannica's Internet-based "knowledge and learning" center for encyclopedia updates, links to thousands of reviewed Web sites, news, and other information.

Platform: Pentium/133 or faster Windows 95, 98, 2000, Me, or NT 4.0 with DVD drive
Britannica Inc., $69.95 (SRP); 800-323-1229; www.britannica.com Grades 5 and up

World Book 2001 Deluxe Edition, V5.0

Every article in the print edition of this popular encyclopedia is on this CD-ROM, with the added benefit of access to updates so article contents are always current. You'll also find 60,000 cross-referenced links, 16,000 images, and additional resources including the Merriam-Webster Reference Library, the Rand McNally New Millennium World Atlas, event timelines, and a year's subscription to www.worldbookonline.com, with links to 15,000 editor-approved Web sites.

Platform: Windows 2000, 98, 95, NT 4.0
World Book Inc., $59.95 (MSRP); 800-967-5325; www.worldbook.com Grades 4–8