UMI Launches 'Kid Friendly' ProQuest Direct(R)

Jan 08, 1998



                 Animated Homepage One of Many Novel Features
                   Designed to Spur Learning in Grades K-12

    ANN ARBOR, Mich., Jan. 8 /PRNewswire/ -- UMI, a Bell & Howell company
(NYSE: BHW), today unveiled a "kid friendly" version of its award winning
online information system, ProQuest Direct(R).
    This edition of ProQuest Direct, version 1.6, is specifically designed for
students in grades K-12.  It features a homepage of lively icons and vibrant
colors to encourage students in elementary, middle, and high schools to seek
information on thousands of topics that interest them.
    A "Searching Safari" motif on the homepage features 10 major level topics
focusing on the most frequently researched subjects in schools today --
Health, Sports and Entertainment, People, Plants and Animals, the Arts, Earth
Science, Social Studies, Critical Issues, Technology and Industry, and In the
News.

    Lively Icons
    Ten animated icons appear on the homepage.  The "Health" icon, for
example, depicts a pulsating emergency van, conveying the impression of
rushing to a hospital.  The "Plants and Animals" icon, mimicking a Venus fly
trap, opens its mouth, swallows, and digests a label.  The "Technology and
Industry" icon shows steam being generated from a power plant as cogged wheels
rotate.  The "Earth Science" icon shows planet earth wiping off its brow,
suggesting global warming.

    Designed for Learning and Fun
    "The graphical look of the interface has been designed to appeal to a
student's sense of whimsy and adventure," said Ben Mondloch, Senior Vice
President and General Manager of UMI's Education division.  "Learning is an
adventure and it's fun.  One of our major objectives in designing ProQuest
Direct for kids was to offer both a sense of adventure and to make searching
for information a fun and rewarding experience.
    "However," he said, "we also want teachers to feel that they are using an
online resource that is appropriate for them."  To meet that objective,
Mondloch said, a hot link to "Topics for Teachers" was created.  Topics for
Teachers can be used by both teachers and librarians to seek information from
an array of education and library subject matter.

    Role of Teachers and Media Specialists
    Lisa Rycenga, Director of Marketing, said, "The design of this interface
is the result of extensive collaboration with teachers and media specialists
around the country.  Their experience, knowledge of what interests students
today, and feedback on issues ranging from the look of the homepage to the 10
major level topics displayed, was invaluable."
    Rycenga said students using the graphical topic search can find
information on more than 10,000 topics in one of two ways.  One way is to use
already-constructed search terms.  The other option is to click the
appropriate top-level topic.  The topic tree then expands to show a list of
other subjects in that category.  From that list, the student can click again
and receive a progressively more focused list of topic headings.
    For example, Rycenga said, if a student clicks the "Health" icon, he or
she will find information on headings in six areas, including
Conditions/Illnesses, Drugs and Medicines, and Fitness and Exercise.  Each
heading offers additional information.

    Scavenger Hunt
    ProQuest Direct for kids also features a unique "Scavenger Hunt."
Designed primarily as a bibliographic tool for school librarians, Scavenger
Hunt can also be used by students to spark thinking on ways to select the
correct topic area to find a particular item of information.
    Scavenger Hunt is a time saver that will assist students and teachers in
learning the interface as well as spark thinking about ways to focus on how to
locate specific bits of information from broad research topics.
    Scavenger Hunt also asks users several entertaining questions which, when
successfully answered, result in a treat.  For example, one question asked of
students is: "What types of information can you get from ProQuest Direct?"
The user chooses one of three answers -- the first, "Magazine articles;" the
second, "Internet Web pages;" the third, "Your sister's diary."  Once this
question and others have been successfully answered, the student receives a
certificate with his or her name on it.
    UMI collects, organizes, and delivers value-added information to customers
in schools (grades K-12), universities, libraries, and businesses in more than
160 countries.  A deep and growing content base includes periodicals,
newspapers, newswires, business journals, broadcast transcripts, and
dissertations available online through ProQuest Direct as well as on
CD-ROM, microform, print, and other media.  More information about UMI is
available on the Internet at http://www.umi.com.
    Bell & Howell, headquartered in Skokie, Illinois, is a leading worldwide
provider of solutions for information access and high-volume mail processing.
Additional information about Bell & Howell is available on the Internet at
http://www.bellhowell.com.

SOURCE  UMI




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