A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this website.
Kids can learn research skills as well as detailed information about the subject of their choice. They'll learn how to process information in a nonlinear way and will figure out how to organize the information that pops up in each grok. As kids view each connection, they'll decide how important it is to their research; do they need details on the ingredients of pizza crust, or do they need a history of pizza? Which should be closer to the main node? InstaGrok lets kids do lots of research without leaving the site, providing a safe and immersive experience.
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.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.