Surfing for Social Studies Software:
A Practical Guide to Locating and Selecting Resources on the Internet

Keeping abreast of the ever expanding market in educational software understandably proves an impossible task for many educators. Significantly, however, a galaxy of educational resources now exist to enrich, enliven, and excite learning in the social studies. Included in this section of "Media Corner" is a selected list of websites that provide extensive information on software available from educational agencies or companies specializing in media products. These websites provide educators with an overview of the increasingly rich array of social studies software, and typically offer important information such as price, age suitability, ordering information, and recent in-house reviews. In the following section, we introduce several websites. Then we offer a selection of 15 CD-ROMs suitable for social studies classrooms.

Websites for Educational Software in the Social Studies
The Educational Software Institute claims that its "ESI Online Resource Guide" (http://esi.cuesta.com) provides "the world's largest and finest collection of K-12 educational software-more than 8,000 titles from 350 publishers." Certainly, ESI makes available a huge assortment of media products. In K-8 social studies alone, more than 497 titles are offered, and each carries a useful product description.

Thunderbeam (http://www.thunderbeam.com/web) is another company offering an extensive range of products in all curriculum areas. Of particular use to social studies educators is the section "History and World," which furnishes lists of dozens of resources, chiefly CD-ROMs, that are individually assessed by the company's own reviewers. Thunderbeam's review and inventory of more than 2,000 software titles is regularly updated as new products become available.

Other commercial websites that include titles suitable for the social studies are: National School Products (http://www.ierc.com/nsp/cdushist.htm), Epicenter (Education Process Improvement Center, Inc.) (http://www.epicent.com), and William K. Bradford's Publishing Company (http://www.wkbradford.com/subjsoci.htm).

A further website that affords invaluable information on current titles is provided by the "Technology Training Center" at the Santa Barbara County Education Office (http://www.sbceo.k12.ca.us/~jheadley/Socst.html). Scores of programs, from Adventure Africa to Yukon Trail, are included in the "Geography/Social Studies Preview List," and the site offers helpful information on each product.

Significantly, many commercial software companies make ordering and previewing materials very simple. Most offer a 30-day preview period, money back guarantees, and toll-free telephone contact numbers. Furthermore, apart from conventional ordering channels (e.g., FAX, telephone) Thunderbeam and National School Products offer an efficient on-line ordering service, and ESI invites orders by e-mail.

One of the most user-friendly and informative websites is "Technology and Learning Online" (http://www.techlearning.com). This site was established by the publishers of Technology and Learning magazine, a leading publication for technology-using educators. It currently offers 147 titles in the social studies, and provides enormously helpful information on award-winning software, recent products, and comparative reviews with other resources.

A Selection of Recommended Titles
The search engine of "Technology and Learning Online" allows educators to locate suitable software with clarity and precision. It permits searches in 17 subject areas, six age group categories, four types (e.g., "award winning," "product announcements"), and nine formats (e.g., MS-DOS Floppy, Videodisc for Macintosh and Windows, Windows Floppy). The selections below are based on a search of recent and "award winning" CD-ROMs suitable for social studies students K-8. In all cases, the information originally provided by "Technology and Learning Online" has been edited and abbreviated.

1. Exploring the Lost Maya
Publisher: Sumeria
Emphasis: Maya Civilization:Mexico: Guatemala: Honduras
Grades: 6 and up
Formats:Macintosh CD-ROM, Windows CD-ROM
Price: $49.95
Date of Announcement/Review:11/10/96
Description:
Movies, stills, maps, graphics, text, and narration combine to present a comprehensive view of the Maya civilization of Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras in this interactive resource. Students may view narrated slide shows or take 360-degree "walking tours" of Tikal, Palenque, and other dramatic sites. A well-organized index and friendly interface make this a particularly useful research tool for the social studies classroom.

Publisher Address /Telephone:
329 Bryant Street
Suite 3D
San Francisco, CA 94107
(415) 904-0800

2. His Name Was Lincoln
Publisher: Sunburst Communications, Inc.
Emphasis: Abraham Lincoln: History
Grades: 7 and up
Formats: Macintosh CD-ROM, Windows CD-ROM
Price: $89.95; Lab packs and site licenses available.
Date of Announcement/Review:
1/1/97
Description:
Archival photographs, period music, compelling first person accounts, and expert commentary combine to provide a comprehensive and moving portrait of Lincoln and 19th century America in this outstanding two-CD title. The program is organized around time-period "chapters," each offering a variety of ways to explore the material. Users can listen to a range of speeches and letters or investigate an interactive topic such as the Lincoln family tree, the Lincoln-Douglas debates, or the Emancipation Proclamation.

Publisher Address /Telephone:
101 Castleton Street
Pleasantville, NY 10570
(800) 321-7511

3. Imagination Express: Destinations Pyramids, Ocean, Time Trip, USA
Publisher: Edmark Corporation
Emphasis: Pyramids: New England: American History: Ocean Science
Grades: Grades K-8
Formats: Macintosh CD-ROM, Windows CD-ROM
Price: School version: $39.95 per title
Date of Announcement/Review: 11/10/96
Description:
These three latest additions to last year's top award-winning story-making series invite students to explore some fascinating new environments. They can investigate an Egyptian tomb, go scuba diving, and play inside a New England town to see how it changes from the 1600s to the present. Teachers especially will appreciate the comprehensive classroom materials, customizable menu bar, and video story starters.

Publisher Address /Telephone:
6727 185th Avenue NE
Redmond, WA 98052
(800) 691-2985

4. The Indian In The Cupboard
Publisher: Viacom NewMedia
Emphasis: 18th-century Iroquois Indians; Social Studies
Grades: 1 and up
Formats: Macintosh CD-ROM, Windows CD-ROM
Price: $44.95
Date of Announcement/Review:
9/1/96
Description:
"The Indian in the Cupboard," loosely based on the children's novel by Lynne Reid Banks, is a smoothly animated, information-rich program that allows children to explore an 18th century Iroquois village and participate in a range of "adventures" to learn about the history and traditions of this Indian nation.

Publisher Address /Telephone:
1515 Broadway
New York, NY 10036
(800) 469-2539

5. Passage to Egypt
Publisher: Discovery Channel Multimedia
Emphasis: Egypt; Nile River
Grades: 6 and up
Formats: Macintosh CD-ROM, Windows CD-ROM
Price:$49.95
Date of Announcement/Review: 11/10/96
Description:
Younger users will enjoy this 4,000-mile interactive journey along Africa's longest river to explore civilizations that flourished along its banks. Students will be wowed by the rich audio-visual content, which includes 360-degree views of the Giza plateau and other sites, and will learn from the video-enriched tours on topics of historical and contemporary significance.

Publisher Address /Telephone:
7700 Wisconsin Ave.
Bethesda MD, 20814-3579
(800)-762-2189

6. Passage to Vietnam
Publisher: Against All Odds
Emphasis: Social Studies; Vietnam
Grades: 5 and up
Formats: Macintosh CD-ROM, Windows CD-ROM
Price: $39.95
Date of Announcement/Review:
5/1/96
Description:
This resource focuses specifically on Vietnam's cultural heritage, industry, history, river life, street life, and youth. Each topic is explored through short essays and captioned photos, many accompanied by brief videos and voice-over commentary from the photographers. Although the Vietnam War is looked at formally in only one section, it is integrated throughout the presentation. Students gain multiple perspectives on the war's impact from individuals such as former Vietcong military officers, a grave-tender, and photographers on assignment during the conflict.

Publisher Address /Telephone:
P.O. Box 1189
Sausalito, CA 94966
(800) 558-3388

7. Pilgrim Quest II
Publisher: Decision Development Corporation
Emphasis: American History: Pilgrims
Grades: 4 and up
Formats: Windows CD-ROM
Price: School discount price: $59.95
Date of Announcement/Review:11/10/96
Description:
This new version of the strategy simulation focuses on the Pilgrims and the numerous challenges that they faced while establishing a colony in the New World. Students step into the shoes of these early settlers to solve a host of problems, including how to feed their families, care for the sick, maintain good relations with Native Americans, and much more. Thoughtfully constructed classroom support materials are also available with the package.

Publisher Address /Telephone:
2680 Bishop Dr.
Suite 122
San Ramon, CA 94583
(800) 835-4332

8. Romeo & Juliet: Center Stage
Publisher: Sunburst Communications
Emphasis: Drama; Romeo and Juliet; Shakespeare
Grades: 6 and up
Formats: Macintosh CD-ROM
Price: $89.95, including classroom materials.
Date of Announcement/Review:
2/1/97
Description:
This electronic look at the tale of two lovers in Verona includes both full video and text versions of the play, and a range of well-designed features that put users in control of the presentation. Built around a high school production, it trades the polish and intensity of a professional performance for some new opportunities to have students make a more personal connection to the characters.

Publisher Address / Telephone:
101 Castleton Street
Pleasantville, NY 10570
(800) 321-7511

9. SimIsle, Missions in the Rain Forest
Publisher: Maxis
Emphasis: Social Studies; Island Ecology
Grades:7 and up
Formats: MS-DOS CD-ROM, Macintosh CD-ROM
Price: $39.95
Date of Announcement/Review:
3/1/96
Description:
Somewhere out there is an electronic island chain renowned for its biological and cultural diversity. Maxis brings this world to your classroom in the latest and perhaps most educationally satisfying product in the "Sim" family. As the ruler of a specific island kingdom (there are 24 provided, or you can make your own), your task and implied ecological stance vary from island to island. As an environmental "good guy," you may try to: preserve an endangered species, help the indigenous population remain self-supporting, or find ways to increase tourism without increasing pollution, deforestation, and human unhappiness. When you play the role of "bad guy," your task is usually to make money, money, and more money, with complete disregard for any moral restraints.

Topographical maps, 3-D renderings of buildings, a wealth of information-packed graphs and charts, and the miniaturized animation that makes programs from Maxis so extraordinary combine to create a uniquely appealing program that no social science class should be without.

Publisher Address /Telephone:
2121 N. California Blvd.
Suite 600
Walnut Creek, CA 94596-3572
(800) 52-MAXIS

10. SkyTrip America
Publisher: Discovery Channel Multimedia (Discovery Communications
Emphasis: U.S. History
Grades: 4-9
Formats: Macintosh CD-ROM, Windows CD-ROM
Price: $39.95
Date of Announcement/Review:
10/1/96
Description:
More than just a collection of interesting facts about American history, this colorful title offers glimpses of the country's past from several cultural perspectives, and provides some solid geography practice along the way. Youngsters travel from coast to coast in a hot air balloon and other vehicles, navigating the panoramic landscape to explore people, regions, and phenomena throughout many historical periods-from the Bering Strait in 30,000 BC, to the Spanish settlement of North America, to Elvis Presley.

Travelers can go straight to specific topics via an index, or navigate by region, state, or historical period. When visiting a location, numerous "hotspots" encourage students to investigate pursuant to brief narrated descriptions. In addition, screen buttons allow access to still images, movies, and narrated textual information. An on-line log feature and glossary also are available.

"SkyTrip America" offers youngsters an entertaining "nutshelquot; sampling of American history, skillfully employing multimedia to make the past a living presence.

Publisher Address /Telephone:
PO Box 55742
Indianapolis, IN 46205
(800) 678-3343

11. SkyTrip America
Publisher: Discovery Channel Multimedia
Emphasis: U.S. History
Grades: 2-6
Formats: Macintosh CD-ROM, Windows CD-ROM
Price: $39.95
Date of Announcement/Review: 11/10/96
Description:
Youngsters use a hoverjet or other vehicle to navigate a richly panoramic North American landscape from which they can explore people, regions, and phenomena from 30,000 BC to the present. High-quality audio narration and wonderful graphics and video provide exciting interactive investigations.

Publisher Address /Telephone:
7700 Wisconsin Ave.
Bethesda MD., USA 20814-3579
(800)-762-2189

12. Strategy Games of the World
Publisher: Edmark Corporation
Emphasis: Cultural awareness:Strategy games
Grades: 3-8
Formats: Macintosh CD-ROM, Windows CD-ROM
Price: School version: $69.95
Date of Announcement/Review: 11/10/96
Description:
Students sample the rich cultural history of Africa, Asia, Egypt, and other places while developing problem-solving strategies that they can use everyday in this timeless game title. "Mancala," "Nine Men's Morris," and "Go-Moku" are the three games forming the centerpiece of the program, which invites youngsters to test their skills against a friend or built-in partner. Included are several challenge levels; strategy coaches; 80 videos on how astronauts, runners, doctors and other "reaquot; people use strategies to solve problems; and special tips for teachers.

Publisher Address / Telephone:
6727 185th Avenue NE
Redmond, WA 98052
(800) 691-2985

13. Trudy's Time and Place House
Publisher: Edmark Corporation
Emphasis: History: Geography
Grades: Pre-K-2
Formats: Macintosh CD-ROM, Windows CD-ROM
Price: School version: $69.95
Date of Announcement/Review:
11/10/96
Description:
The fourth title in Edmark's Early Learning House series, "Trudy's Time and Place House" features the same delightful cast of characters, colorful graphics, and range of fun and educationally sound learning games found in its predecessors. Children explore time and geography via five rich activities, which invite them to manipulate calendars and clocks; to place symbols on a sandbox map to create roads, cities, and lakes; to visit Stonehenge and other international sites, and more. Both open-ended and structured options are available.

Publisher Address /Telephone:
6727 185th Avenue NE
Redmond, WA 98052
(800) 691-2985

14. World Discovery Deluxe
Publisher: Great Wave Software
Emphasis: Geography: History: Economics
Grades: 3 and up
Formats: Macintosh CD-ROM, Windows CD-ROM
Price: School version: $69.95
Date of Announcement/Review: 11/10/96
Description:
Teachers and students will love this game-like, content-rich title that reinforces geography, history, and economics instruction through a promising selection of fast-paced activities. Users can practice identifying continents, capitals, oceans, rivers, volcanoes, currencies, flags, and more. A "Grab Bag" features additional fascinating information, and three levels of play, guiding feedback, and record-keeping options make it easy for teachers to integrate it into existing lessons.

Publisher Address /Telephone:
5353 Scotts Valley Drive
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
(800) 423-1144

15. World Tour
Publisher: Headbone Interactive
Emphasis: World cultures
Grades: pre-K-3
Formats: Macintosh CD-ROM, Windows CD-ROM
Price: $29.95
Date of Announcement/Review:
2/1/97
Description:
This latest offering in the "Giggle Bone Gang" series invites users to embark on an interactive exploration of the customs, geography, languages, and history of 10 countries around the globe. As with the earlier titles, "World Tour" features plenty of personality, quirky humor, and a carefully crafted, creative approach to instruction.

"World Tour" is not comprehensive or systematic enough to be considered a true research tool. It samples only about one country per continent, and its approach is discovery based, with users often uncovering unexpected layers of information. However, the ongoing humor, engaging presentation, and fascinating nature of the material makes this an exciting and informative classroom resource.

Publisher Address /Telephone:
1520 Bellevue Avenue
Seattle, WA 98122
(800) 267-4709

About the Authors
Stuart J. Foster is Assistant Professor and John D. Hoge is Associate Professor of Social Science Education at The University of Georgia, Athens. Both are former classroom teachers and are interested in children's and adolescents' understanding of history in the social studies.