InstaGrok is a graphical search engine that doesn’t just return search results but presents information in a “graph” that try to show relationships between topics and issues. The graphs it uses to display information, “myGroks,” aim to allow learners of varying ages to grasp important concepts, key facts, and relationships. (The developers insist it’s “not a search engine.”)
its information retrieval appeal, InstaGrok also has a number of other
features that facilitate self-directed learning. For each particular
topic, the Instagrok graph also provides associated websites, videos,
images, and quiz questions aligned to the central concepts. An
additional journal feature offers students the ability write notes, keep
images, or begin putting together a research report with the
information that they gather. For these reasons, instaGrok positions itself as a tool that promotes self-directed learning.
While most parts of Instagrok are free, the “classroom” or premium version costs $35 per educator per year. Educators get a teacher dashboard that tracks students’ progress on concepts. This version also provides features such as ad-free searches, mature or adult-themed content filtering and the ability to integrate with Edmodo accounts. (Here’s a comparison of the free and paid versions.) Many teachers may find these integration features just as useful as InstaGrok’s research capabilities.
Instagrok was founded in 2010 by a computer scientist, Kirill Kireyev. In 2012, he was joined by Andrew Bender, who had previously started an edtech company, Eleven Learning, which has since closed down. The duo were part of the Imagine K-12’s incubator program during 2012. As of 2013, InstaGrok was tracking each month’s “Top Grokkers.” It boasted 600,000 unique visitors in January 2013.
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