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World Book Student

By Alice Kurtz - Posted Mar 1, 2009
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Company: World Book, Inc., 223 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 2000, Chicago, IL 60601. Phone: (800) 975-3250; Internet:  

Price: World Book Student is included with World Book Web, School and Library Edition or Complete Reference Suite. Pricing is based on the selected materials and number of users.

Audience: Grades 5–9

Format: Online multimedia encyclopedia and research database with teacher tools.

Minimum System Requirements: A computer with a modem and high speed internet access.

Description: World Book Student is the new name for the redesigned and upgraded version of the World Book Online Reference Center. The site offers all of the articles from the print version of the World Book Encyclopedia, a Biography Center, a dictionary, an atlas, an extensive multimedia collection, links to thousands of editor-selected websites, interactive features, and new and enhanced research capabilities. The online teacher resources include correlations to curriculum standards and assistance for lesson planning and designing research projects for students.

Report Card

Overall Rating: * * * * *

Installation A

Content/Features A

Ease of Use A

Product Support A

Reviewer Comments:

Installation: Users log on with an ID and password. There was no difficulty accessing the site. Installation Rating: A

Content/Features: The newly configured World Book Student homepage is colorful and appealing to students. The page links to more than 40,000 articles, videos, and photos. Content updates occur every 2–4 weeks.

The new features in World Book Student include research tools such as a timeline builder and individual student research accounts, a Biography Center, hundreds of videos, and thousands of pictures and illustrations.

The Search feature located at the top of the homepage offers the option to search among articles from World Book Student or World Book Student and World Book Kids simultaneously. Content searches can be conducted by subject or alphabetical listing. Media-only searches can be performed. Advanced search options, browse options, and Boolean search features are available.

When a search is undertaken, the search return page shows the top 15 articles. In a sidebar on the left of the screen, the type and amount of other related content is displayed. The located content may include encyclopedia articles, maps, tables, dictionary entries, audio files, pictures, images, videos, Back in Time material (historical articles), special reports, website links, research guides, and timelines.

When World Book Student and World Book Kids are selected for simultaneous searching, both sets of results are posted in columns at the center of the page. The sidebar appears here as well and contains information about additional content available on the searched topic.

The encyclopedia articles are written in the familiar World Book layout. Multimedia (video, sound, maps, photos, and more) is embedded in many of the articles.

Students can choose to read the full article, or, by using the sidebar subheadings, they can skip to the portion of the article that is pertinent to their research. While using a selected article, students can print, save, email, or send the article to their Backpack accounts. Each content link can be saved in the My Backpack section by clicking a check box preceding the link.

The unique Back in Time feature provides more than 13,000 historical articles about people, places, and events from the past. The articles are written from the perspective of the time period under study, allowing the student to examine the thinking and style of writing from that time. World War II articles, for example, are written without information on the eventual outcomes.

The new Biography Center offers 10,000 biographies that can be accessed by a subject’s name, area of work or interest, gender, nationality and ethnicity, and time period. Students can choose a biography by exploring occupational categories including inventors, explorers, artists, world leaders, authors, and sports figures. Additional categories appear under the heading of World Book Picks, a feature that offers lists of biographies in the expected categories (such as Inspiring Biographies and Most Influential World Leaders) as well as in some unexpected categories (Famous Left-Handed People, Whiz Kids, and Child Prodigies).

The Research Tools feature provides a How to Do Research segment divided into a section for students and a separate section for educators. New research features included in World Book Student enable students to work with a research tutorial, to build timelines, and to create personal research accounts.

The seven-step research skills tutorial for students highlights evaluating print and electronic sources and citing materials in MLA (Modern Language Association) format. Templates for research papers are provided.

The Educator segment demonstrates how to teach research skills and offers ideas for lesson planning and correlating projects with state standards. Assessment rubrics for research projects can be designed in this segment.

The My Backpack research tool permits students to create a personalized account to hold their research results. The user must set up an account before accessing this feature.

Timelines, another research offering, gives students the option to view premade timelines or to create their own.

A dictionary and an atlas are accessible from the homepage. Any word in an on-screen article can be double-clicked to bring up a pop-up overlay that provides the dictionary definition. The dictionary can be accessed directly from this overlay.

The atlas provides full-color printable maps of continents, countries, and selected cities. A sidebar on the atlas shows the variety of maps and features that are offered. Topographical maps, economic maps, and many other types of maps are available. The maps are linked throughout various materials in the World Book articles.

Additional homepage features include Quizzes and Activities, Today (with RSS newsfeeds from PBS that are updated throughout the day), Explore (a geographic reference for states, provinces, and countries), and Most Popular (a regularly updated list of articles).

The Quizzes and Activities section includes a very interesting feature titled Surf the Ages, a simulation that assumes that the internet was available in ancient times, the Middle Ages, and modern times. These simulations allow students to surf historical "websites" in article, advertising, and webpage format to get a virtual taste of the time period. These "web" glimpses might include a personal page from a soldier stationed on the Great Wall of China or employment ads from Mozart.

The What’s New feature on the homepage provides a link to information recently added to the site, including new pictures and articles, revised articles, and new dictionary entries. The newly added material is grouped by additions in the past month and in the past year.

The featured video on the front page changes each time the page is accessed by a user.

Current World Book Online Reference subscribers automatically have access to the World Book Student upgrade. Content/Features Rating: A

Ease of Use: World Book Student has been enhanced in a way that is very user friendly for middle school students. The homepage design is attractive and will appeal to students at this grade level.

The navigation has been made especially easy by the strategic placement of various toolboxes and the highly visible Home and Research buttons. The toolbox on each page of an article allows students to easily print, email, or save information as an HTML or PDF file.

The online tutorial walks users through the site’s highlights and shows them how to use the My Backpack and Timelines research tools. Ease of Use Rating: A

Product Support: World Book provides a customer training site with downloadable PowerPoint materials, a printable PDF version of the customer training guide, video tutorials, and webinars. Email support is offered at wbolcontent@

Site updates occur daily between the hours of midnight and 6 a.m. (Central time). You may experience some brief interruptions of service during that time. Product Support Rating: A

Recommendation: World Book Student is a user-friendly online service designed to aid and support student research. The site is dependable and comprehensive.

This research tool integrates encyclopedia, multimedia, ebook content, and databases to enable students to easily search a large collection with confidence. The learning materials are offered with current reliable information, making this a great resource for schools and libraries.

This site offers useful research tools, including a timeline creator and the My Backpack research tool. The articles are written with depth, yet they are comprehensible for student researchers.

World Book Student is a highly recommended purchase for schools and libraries.

Reviewer: Alice Kurtz, 5/6 grade teacher, Irving B. Weber School, Iowa City, IA. 

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