THE TEACHING ECONOMIST - William A. McEachern                 

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Issue 9, Spring 1995

William A. McEachern, Editor

Microsoft's Bookself

Another learning tool to keep an eye on is Microsoft's Bookshelf, which is now available on CD-ROM as part of Microsoft's Office Professional. The Bookshelf reference disc includes The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 3d. ed. (Houghton Mifflin Company, 1992); the Concise Columbia Encyclopedia (Columbia University Press, 1991); Roget's Thesaurus (Longman Group, 1987); The People's Chronology (Henry Holt, 1992); The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations, (Columbia University Press, 1993); and The World Almanac and Book of Facts 1994 (both from Funk and Wagnall, 1993).

Bookshelf allows the user to type a word or word combination, then search any book or all books combined to find instances where the word or combination appears. An audio feature also pronounces many words upon request. The economic content of Bookshelf is thin. For example, "opportunity cost" does not show up, nor does "sunk cost" or "comparative advantage." I mention Bookshelf more for its promise and technique than for its current usefulness.

Computer-based learning tools will only get better. My principles book, for example, is available on a CD-ROM that includes animated graphs, self-tests, sound, videos, and full search capability (for instance, "opportunity cost" can be found in 186 places). The philosopher Eric Hoffer said, "In a time of drastic change it is the learners who inherit the future. The learned usually find themselves equipped to live in a world that no longer exists." We must continue to be learners.

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