What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that instaGrok is a website that kids can use to create interactive information maps, called "groks," on any subject. Kids will have fun looking up silly stuff. For example, a search for Pokemon brought up a highly detailed grok. They'll also find value in using the site to get valid information that's presented in a different way. Its profanity filter is a work in progress -- it has a hard time confirming appropriate video content. Still, the site does a good job of eliminating inappropriate links or sources from a search. Another bonus is the fact that you can run all your chosen sources through EasyBib, a site that verifies research sources.
What kids can learn
Language & Reading
- text analysis
- using supporting evidence
Thinking & Reasoning
- collecting data
- thinking critically
- combining knowledge
- academic development
- working efficiently
- using and applying technology
Engagement, Approach, Support
Design is clean, and kids will have lots of fun making groks of their hobbies and interests.
Kids will see content presented in a nonlinear way; what they do with their findings is up to them. They have a lot of freedom to tinker with groks, adding notes and sharing with friends through social media.
There's a four-minute demo video (which isn't very kid-friendly) but no written help. InstaGrok does have an active Twitter feed and a Facebook page.
What's it about?
INSTAGROK is a website that describes itself as a \"search engine for learners.\" Type any term into the search bar, and an interactive map, called a grok, appears. Each grok is made up of many bubbles, which branch off from the original search item. If you search for \"pizza,\" the map's bubbles will contain things like \"crust,\" \"sauce,\" and \"oven.\" If you click on one of those words, a text box explaining those specific subjects will appear. Hit \"More\" on the left-hand side of the screen for Key Facts, and adjust the sliding Difficulty bar to customize the grok's complexity for particular age groups or educational levels. Tab over to the Journal section and take notes, pin items, or add photos.
Is it any good?
To grok (a made-up word from the sci-fi classic Stranger in a Strange Land) now means to understand thoroughly and intuitively. InstaGrok presents information as an interactive visual interface that could work well for kids who have difficulty comprehending linear progressions. It looks fine, but its design isn't quite as clean as some of its competitors'. It's slightly tricky to figure out at first, and help isn't easily accessible. Once kids get the hang of it, however, they should enjoy creating a customized grok for a class project or even one on a favorite subject just for fun. The Difficulty bar sets instaGrok apart from the many other visual mind-mapping sites. That and its ability to eliminate links with profanity make it extra kid-friendly.
Families can talk about...
Ask your kid what it means to truly understand something. What's the difference between memorizing facts and understanding a concept from the inside out?
Create your own nonvirtual grok with your kids. Name a subject and ask them to come up with a list of topics that branch off it.