Q: I recently bought a computer for my 8-year-old daughter and 12-year-old son. Could you recommend some learning and history software with African American themes?
–D. Mathews, Akron, Ohio
A: If you have Internet access, check out such black Websites and search engines as www.blacksoftware .com, www.everythingblack.com and www.blackweb portal.com (see “Virtual Communities,” this issue) as a reference point. In addition to black-oriented software, you will be able to find listings for some great interactive learning programs (K-12).
One of the most popular and comprehensive “black” history programs is Microsoft’s Encarta Africana, which was developed by Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr., chair of Afro-American Studies at Harvard University. The program is meant to serve as a reference source on history, geography, and culture of people of African descent. The Encarta Africana 2000 version features articles, images, interactive maps, audio, video, virtual tours, and a music timeline. It retails for $69.95, but Microsoft is currently offering a $30 mail-in rebate (available through www.africana.com).
Also available from QuickThinking Software is Empower Encyclopedia, the African-American Multimedia Collection. This program retails for $59.95, but you can download a free evaluation version (www.empowerencyclopedia.com). Empower Encyclopedia tells the story of over 250 African American achievers, featuring full-motion video, animation, and slide show with narration.
A favorite clip art software program is HistoriClipz by Columbus, Ohio-based Okara Graphics (www.okara.com), which features 28 unique images in categories that include Scholars, Explorers, Scientists, Sports Figures, and the Civil Rights Era. Moreover, there is a help file detailing the accomplishments of African American personalities along with descriptions of significant events. HistoriClipz retails for $24.95