Instagrok just got better!

Since I wrote my first post about Instagrok, this research and concept mapping tool has added some new great features.

The most significant change that has been made to Instagrok is the “Share It” button. This allows students and teachers the ability to share their concept map (and their learning) with others. I believe that student learning is deeper and more authentic if they can connect key ideas and concepts together to create an overall understanding.  The concept maps that they create as they learn are easy to reflect back on to deepen the understanding.

This is a map that we created as an example:

http://www.instagrok.com/grok/?action=view&result_id=yikDk0V6cdGmSGzBBvoj&query=hudson+bay+company

I created this link by using the “Share It” feature within Instagrok. By looking at the concept map, you can see what we were learning about as we created it.  In fact, I was helping a teacher to prepare for a Social Studies lesson about the Hudson’s Bay Company and how it functioned as a monopoly in the late 19th century.

Wouldn’t it be great if great researchers, scientists, and thinkers of our time were to share their groks with us.  It would serve as an opportuntiy to gain some insight into their thinking by “getting inside their heads” for a brief moment.

Another feature of Instagrok is a slider which allows the user to control the difficulty of the content which they are reading. This would be a great feature for differentiating the level of the learning.

Instagrok keeps a history of subjects that I have Grokked.  What I like most about this feature is that when I choose a previous topic, it starts me back at the first level of the concept and allows me to review my previous learning or learn something new about that concept.

The teacher account allows teachers to create a “class code” that students can input as they log in.  This allows teachers the opportunity to track students and see how they are doing.

I recently showed Instagrok to one of our teachers (Patrice Teveniuk, @PTevy) and this is the comments that I received from her (via email):

Outstanding site!!!!!!!!  I think this is amazing. This is an outstanding site for Social Studies teachers.  It requires less research, as a teacher, to find resources and information on curriculum topics.  With the click of a button, all of related videos, vocabulary and information is there for me.  I no longer have to Youtube everything to find related information.  My ELL students who are taking core subjects can also put in concepts and vocabulary. Works very well. They use the glossary and videos to assist them with their learning.

In my first post, I compared Instagrok to Google’s Wonderwheel, which is now extinct.  I realize now that there is no comparison.  WonderWheel was clearly a search engine which helped the user to find a website.  Instagrok is a learning, researching and concept mapping tool which deepens learning by allowing the user to create cognitive (and visual) connections.

Maybe one day, people will say, “I need to Grok that!”

If you use Instagrok and have some ideas to share, please do not hesitate to leave a comment.

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About Derek Hatch (Hatcherelli)
Assistant Principal and Technology Leader in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

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