One of the most powerful things about this here Internet thing, is the fact that it allows for an almost infinite number of ways to slice and dice information. We’re already blessed with a huge amount of free data on the Web, from Wikipedia to blogs to forums and beyond, and now new forms of data visualization are starting to hit our screens.
The InstaGrok site is a great example of an educational tool which offers an impressively powerful interface for learning and information in general. The key aspect of the site is the connection of facts into an interactive tapestry of information, so instead of the simple text and image page structure of an encyclopedia such as Wikipedia, users can select different parts of the knowledge tree to explore for every subject.
Doing a topic search will initially deliver a linked mind-map type results page, with key facts down one side, as well as relevant websites, videos and other data for the subject. Click on any node in the map, and you’ll be taken to different aspects of the subject with the sidebar changing contextually each time. It’s incredibly easy to use and understand and a superb way of delivering a lot of complex information in an elegant way.
What’s great about this type of interface, is the opportunity it gives for users to learn at their own pace and in their preferred way. They can select which nodes they wish to explore and slowly build a picture of the knowledgebase at their own pace, with having to deal with an intimidating wall of text.
The system is clearly aimed specifically at school classrooms, and there are various levels of access offered depending on the plan chosen. There are two free plans which offer everything except the teacher dashboards and other educational tools, while teachers and schools can take advantage of more sophisticated services and tools to use in their classes. It’s a great site/service, and one that we hope is the start of a new wave of educational tools for the future. [Via]