In this age where teachers and students often need to show up with their own computers, the flexibility to be able to work with anything and everything is essential. Education.com’s online curriculum not only can keep a classroom filled with lesson plans, activities and games, but works with just about any computer you can throw at it.
Because it runs in a Web browser window, Education.com can work on anything from a traditional school PC, Mac or Linux machine to an iOS, Android or Chromebook system. This opens a world of mixed machines at schools, regardless of whether students and teachers bring their own or are supplied with whatever is on hand.
I used Education.com nearly every day for several weeks with whatever computer I had handy, including iPads, Androids, PCs, Macs and Chromebooks. The beauty of this scheme is that not only will the service work on a variety of classroom devices, but kids can use it at home for assignments or enrichment. On the downside, the screens can look slightly different in different browsers and the browser framework can be clunky compared to dedicated apps that use the entire screen.
It takes just a minute to log in and the site’s response is quick and reliable. Education.com is well-organized and visually-oriented. There's a prominent green bar at the top that has links for Games, Worksheets, Workbooks, Activities, Lesson Plans, Science Fair and a catch-all for everything else in More. Once you get to the content overview pages, there’s a search bar, grade and subject categories as well as preview images of every item.
Education.com does a great job of supplying teachers with ideas and materials for primary students, but some of the categories get sparse for older children. For instance, Education.com’s Brainzy games stop at 1st graders and there are no lesson plans beyond the fifth grade level
Brainzy forms the core of Education.com’s offerings. While the games often run on half the screen, they are effective teaching tools with hints, lots of animation and sounds and a sequenced approach that builds on prior usage.
While many of the activities have built in quizzes, there’s no comprehensive assessment section. Plus, the teacher’s dashboard for tracking student progress only covers the Brainzy games and not the rest of the site. Parents can’t log in to see how their children are doing and teachers will need to transfer the results manually from Education.com to their grade books.
Teachers have access to a wide variety of resources and content, most of which include Common Core links. In addition to a slew of games, the site has read-along stories, songs and no shortage of games and activities. One of my favorites is the Science Fair section, which contains grade- and category organized practical classroom math and science ideas. There’s everything from what’s inside power tools to the golden ratio.
The newest section is a deep selection of lesson plans. Created by actual teachers, there are six subject areas for pre-school through fifth graders. The plans are generally complete, but might need some customization to cover specific state requirements.
Happily, each lesson plan has a suggested time limit and often individual activity timing; most are calibrated for 90 or 100-minutes. There are hundreds of plans with more being added all the time. They have a standard format and are dominated by bullet points for the main ideas, so are easy to follow.
A big bonus is that the lesson plans generally have a variety of worksheets, and this is where Education.com excels. The site has 15,000 worksheets available in an extensive library that covers topics like the different parts of the body, mixed math problems and an excellent set of a dozen planning sheets for arranging the main idea and supporting facts for writing an essay.
On the downside, there’s no place for teachers to share ideas, lesson plans or even just chat about what works and what doesn’t. The company is working on something it calls Teacher Tips for this sort of interaction.
Nothing there for your exact lesson? Go ahead and make your own with Education.com's worksheet generator. There are sections for reading and math, but nothing for science or language topics. There is even a way to make a maze, Sudoku or crossword puzzle.
Education.com has a free version as well as annual Plus ($48) and Pro ($72) accounts that cover 3- and 35-students; Pro subscribers also get extra teaching tools. The real worth of Education.com comes when an entire school or district uses it. The price per student can drop significantly with bulk orders. Plus, the site now has a store for buying physical books, flash cards and science kits.
Able to bridge the software gap among iPads, Windows, Androids, Macs and Chromebooks, Education.com is off to a good first-year start with lots of materials teachers will use every day. Like the children it aims to teach, the site needs to grow, fill-out and mature to be able to handle the range and complexity of subjects that teachers face every day.
$72 per teacher per year (limited to 35 students); discounts available on bulk orders
+ Works on PCs, Macs, iOS, Androids and Chromebooks
+ Lots of activities and games
+ Excellent worksheets
+ Pre-made lesson plans
+ Pre-K through High School
- Limited number of students covered with paid accounts
- Short on assessment integration