May 25, 2017

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DK Mines Existing Content for a Promising New Resource | Reference Online

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SLJ1505-Ref-DKfindOutInformation literacy for elementary school students continues to garner more attention nationwide, and DK, best known for its informative, engaging, and visually stunning nonfiction works, has taken up the charge with its newest creation, DK Findout! Easily accessible on PCs, smartphones, and tablets, this interactive and appealing online encyclopedia supports student learning and aims to provide users of all ages with the critical skills needed to become independent, lifelong learners.

DK Findout!

Grade Level Gr 3–6
Cost Free
Ease of Use and Visual Appeal With its clean, white background and limited color palette, this resource features a streamlined approach that emphasizes curated content without sacrificing visual appeal.
Bold orange directional arrows change the homepage’s default image to one of five predetermined subjects that students can select and explore; at the top of the page, an orange icon also functions as a portal to DKfindout!’s category index. This judicious use of color is striking in its minimalism. A search bar in shades of pale yellow and cream is located at the bottom of the screen.
Further down the homepage, users can explore any of the 11 broad categories, each with its own vivid, high-resolution image, or they may opt to examine one of the six colorful sidebars containing bonus material, including quizzes, videos, and fun facts. This straightforward user experience will win over students and teachers alike.
Content There are 10 clearly named, alphabetically arranged categories, including “Animals and Nature,” “Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Life,” “Earth,” “English,” “Math,” and “Science.” An additional category (“More Find Out!”) accompanied by an icon of an enigmatic exclamation point, is vague. Clicking on it reveals two subcategories (more will follow): “Festivals and Holidays” (which contains only five entries, such as “Chinese New Year” and “Day of the Dead”) and “Special Events,” which includes only one entry, “World Wildlife Day.”
The content here varies from category to category. “English,” for example, currently contains just a “Parts of Speech” subcategory, whereas “History” is slightly more comprehensive, with 18 subcategories.
Overall, the nonfiction expertise and authority that users expect from DK is present throughout, but the breadth of subjects available is sorely wanting. A search for terms such as “shipwrecks” and “basketball” yields no results, while “pirate” returns an entry called “Who Were the Vikings?” and “pirates” results in “Chinese Junk.”
The lack of rather common subjects is unfortunate, especially when more obscure topics, including the guanaco (a small relative of the camel) and the euoplocephalus (a type of dinosaur), are included. Because the website is still in development, these omissions can be easily corrected in subsequent versions, but until then, the website lacks scope and depth.
Student and Teacher Resources While there is no area dedicated to student resources, the website’s developers are actively working on a “My Stuff” feature, where students can store information they’ve found. Those with different learning styles will appreciate the various means through which they can access information; for example, the entry on knights includes a sound clip of knights jousting. Small black and red flashing circles on the accompanying image serve as a means to gather additional information, be it through text boxes or links to other pages within the site.
Educators, once registered, have the ability to create and order lesson plans, and while several features are not live as of yet, they will likely bolster teachers’ preparation and enrich the classroom experience. A page designed to support parents in assisting their children with homework is currently in development as well.
Because so many parts of the website are still in development, users can sign up for email notifications regarding updates and new features, and a feedback tab on the homepage allows students, teachers, parents, and others to rate it and make suggestions.
Verdict Although the visual appeal is strong, the site’s content is still a work-in-progress. DK packages top-notch information in an engaging and distinctive way, and while the website shows great potential, it has far to go to achieve the level of authority for which the brand is known.


Audrey Sumser, Cuyahoga County Public Library, Mayfield, OH.

This article was published in School Library Journal's May 2015 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

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