The Old Schoolhouse® Product & Curriculum Reviews

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netTrekker Review by Maggi Beardsley

15 Triangle Park Drive
Cincinnati, Ohio 45246

netTrekker is a subscription Internet search engine that children and their parents can use to access websites that have been chosen by over 180,000 teachers. It provides links to over 300,000 of the "best online resources," organized by readability and grade level. On its website netTrekker says of itself that it "is an easy to use search tool that delivers safe, relevant results that you can feel good about." The subscriptions are good for one year.

netTrekker states that it will save the teachers (or parents) time and money by narrowing the websites so that the students are only accessing websites that are educational and appropriate for students in grades K-12. It was designed for school usage, but parents can purchase an individual subscription. netTrekker helps the students to "develop research skills,", "learn to access and organize information," "better communicate findings," "practice important learning concepts," and "gain academic confidence."

One neat feature enables students to create timelines focusing on different time periods or subjects. For instance, if you enter "visual arts," it would list people and events related to that field on a one-page timeline.

You can search for content based on grade level or reading level. You can also check on the state standards for all 50 states. There is even a read-aloud feature that will read the text of any of the websites that netTrekker sends you to. For a slow reader or an auditory learner, this is a great feature. You can highlight a paragraph or more on a website, and the passage will be read out loud. The timeline for a specific field like visual arts was good. I could entry a time period and it would list the people and events on one page.

On the website it states that netTrekker is "America's #1 Educational search engine: trusted by more than 11 million K-12 Students, Educators and Parents." I can see how the website would be beneficial in a large, traditional school setting. It has received many industry awards. None of the awards, however, were from the homeschooling community. While the product is great in that it provides a filter so that students can access websites that are educationally appropriate, I found it to be designed more for a traditional classroom teacher. A few of the websites that it recommends no longer exist. Also, the timeline feature seemed to work better for specific areas than for large concepts like United States history.

netTrekker doesn't make sense for the homeschooling family. It provides informational websites and "safe" places for research but not enough interactive-educational sites for my family. With our limited budget, we will pass on purchasing a year subscription for the family.

Product review by: Maggi Beardsley, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, August 2008