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Internet @ Schools

By Susan W. Hixson - Posted Sep 1, 2009
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Overall Rating:5 Stars
Ease of Use:A
Product Support:A

Company:, 120 Cremona Drive, Suite H, Goleta, CA 93117. Phone: (877) 627-7101; Internet:  

Price: Pricing is based upon enrollment and school size. The base subscription price is around $650 for a single site. A free 2-day trial can be requested online; longer trials can be set up by a company representative.

Audience: Grades K–12.

Format: Subscription-based website.

Minimum System Requirements: For optimum use, an efficient computer with a high-speed internet connection is recommended. The site is best viewed with Netscape 4.0 or Internet Explorer 4.0 or higher. A current version of Adobe Acrobat Reader and the latest version of Adobe Flash Player (both free downloads) are needed.

The maps are displayed as GIFs and can be downloaded as PDFs to resize for printing on 8.5"x11" paper. A projector for computer screen display would be helpful when using the site for class lessons.

Description: is a subscription-based online resource that provides access to thousands of interactive maps, videos, animated timelines, educational games, and educator resources for teaching earth science, geography, history, and social studies.

Reviewer Comments:

Installation: This is an online program; no installation is required.

The subscription includes a username and password that will allow the teacher and the students to access all materials. A nice feature of the subscription is that students can access the program from home. Installation: A

Content/Features: provides thousands of projectable and print-preformatted maps, more than 200 activity and lesson plans for K–12, daily and weekly current events articles and corresponding maps, interactive mapping features and satellite imagery, Flash-animated educational games and quizzes, and up-to-date world and U.S. reference atlases.

The site recently partnered with National Geographic magazine to offer more than 100 years of supple­mental archival maps and thematic maps as well as video footage of historic events and exclusive activities.

The National Geographic archive maps are classified by decade, beginning with 1890. In the 1890s section, I looked at a map of the U.S. from March 1892, a drawing of the Muir Glacier in Alaska from 1892, and a map of the gold and coal fields of Alaska from 1898. Each map is accompanied by historical information and links to lesson plans and to email the map to a teacher or friend, as well as by map options such as download image, download PDF, and get a poster-sized map.

The extensive list of National Geographic maps provides a look at the water cycle and at ocean currents, as well as at political and physical maps of continents and more. These maps and diagrams can easily be tied to history. For example, students can look at a map of colonial rule in the Middle East from 1914 to 1923 and contrast it with a present-day version. Lesson plans are available to assist educators in planning creative ways to present the materials.

After logging in on the homepage, a search box allows the user to enter a topic or location. A list of resources then appears for evaluation. I entered Zurich, Switzerland and was shown three Geography In the News articles, one outline map, and two political atlas maps.

Interactive maps include videos at sites marked by colored dots that indicate the category of the film. Topics include history, current events, people and places, science and nature, and wildlife. Clicking on a blue dot in Australia played a 3-minute video about mining opals in Coober Pedy. A green dot in Iraq opened a video about the ancient civilization of Mesopotamia.

Many of the interactive maps include video timelines that use color and artwork to depict the spread of ideas and social systems such as religion and political power.

Teachers working with state capitals can find black-line masters that can be printed for practice maps, as well as an interactive national map with pop-up information about each state’s capital, history, and flag.

A school locator feature helps users put their schools on a map. also offers maps of national parks; historic parks; battlefields; Washington, D.C., monuments; and Canadian Pro­vinces and capitals.

Reference atlases provide flags, statistics, and geography terms. A current events feature includes maps in the news and the online edition of the Geography In the News column written by Neal G. Lineback.

Maps are available for K–3 students. These simple maps can be personalized by young children, filled in with states and capitals, and used to map neighborhoods, bedrooms, and more. Activities are offered to help incorporate these maps into lessons. This material is a good introduction to maps and map-reading skills.

The site offers lesson plans cross-referenced by grades, subject contents, and standards. Links to standards for all 50 states are offered; content is aligned to some of the standards. An easy-to-use search tool is available.

A Spanish-language feature is offered for frequently used world and continent maps. The Spanish translations include all country names, oceans, and capital cities.

The site’s Learn and Play section is full of games designed to help students learn map skills. The games, offered at various levels of difficulty, cover learning directions and state capitals in formats such as crossword puzzles, jigsaw puzzles, word searches, and world quizzes. Content/Features Rating: A

Ease of Use: is easy to use; the lists of resources and online User’s Guide provide additional help. The User’s Guide can be downloaded as a PDF; the online guide provides links to subjects listed in outline order for quick access. Ease of Use Rating: A

Product Support: Help is available in the form of an FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) document and by phone and email. Educator webinars are offered; these online tutorials guide new users through the program and feature specific topics, web links, and ideas that teachers can use in their curriculum. Product Support Rating: A

Recommendation: is much more than a website offering thousands of maps. The site also provides video materials and interactive activities designed to assist in the teaching and learning of many history and social studies topics.

I was most impressed with the quality of the information and the ease of finding needed information. Creative teachers can use the lesson plan ideas to enhance their presentations. Students can capture or print maps and other resources to present better reports or to improve their writing.

With the prohibitive cost of maps today, many classrooms do not have up-to-date display maps. With and a computer, thousands of current maps will be available at a teacher’s fingertips.

The pricing seems reasonable for a world of reference materials. Take a look at the free trial. Highly recommended.

Reviewer: Susan W. Hixson, educational consultant.

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