Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978



Anywhere Teacher

Anywhere Teacher

Spring 2017 Website
Ages: 2 - 8 yrs.
Review:

Anywhere Teacher is a new educational website published by School Zone Inc., a company that has been creating multimedia learning products for children-toddlers through sixth graders-for 40 years.

From the most basic preschooler alphabet-and-numbers flash cards and grade-appropriate workbooks for all subjects, to reading books and educational software games, it focuses on materials that supplement classroom learning, or give the youngest kids an early start.

This subscription-based site ($6.99 per month) is kid-friendly and easy for children to navigate once you get them up and running. Is it safe? Parental controls let parents oversee and customize their children's learning levels. Cybersafe? School Zone Inc. collects information you provide, uses cookies to track your use and preferences, but "does not intend to collect" personal information from children under age 13. Fairly typical if not exemplary.

Go inside Anytime Teacher's "playful adventure" and you'll find just about every product School Zone Inc. ever created, an overwhelming mixture of recycled titles and new content: hundreds of videos, digital flash cards, learning games, songs, cartoon stories, books, music videos, and printable activities. So, this is mostly repackaged and digital conversions of past products. Essentially, Anytime Teacher is School Zone Inc.'s large and aging inventory made available in one location, accessible from desktops, laptops or mobile devices.

For instance, venture into the Toddler category and click on any of four activities (Flashcards, Songs, Videos and Games); or by skills (from Counting, Addition and Colors to Geography, Creativity and Reading-22 in all); or do Videos (including Charlie & Co., Puzzles and Characters). There you can view a "thinking and deduction" Charlie & Co. video about animals and their natural habitat, which is entertaining and thought provoking. But go to Grades 1-2 Reading for an overly hurried reading of the book "The Last Game," a simply illustrated kids' baseball story offering no interactivity, no vocabulary lessons or no follow-up or feedback.

In the Games category for grades K-6, one of School Zone Inc.'s "confidence-building" games is Helicopter Drop, which is gameplay-primitive by today's benchmarks. The Grades 1-2 Subtraction Flashcards are elementary and do nothing more than actual flashcards do.

When we typed in wrong missing letters to four of the five words in the Word Exercise for Grades 2-3, the program marked them with red check marks, apparently meaning wrong, "said" nothing, offered no correction, no try again, no feedback, no lesson to be learned. Same with several other fill-in-the-blank exercises.

Final analysis: Anytime Teacher provides a vast array of learning activities that, for the most part, don't offer the level of interactivity that has become today's standard. And since School Zone Inc. is mining its 40-year inventory for this website, that makes sense.

Some kids may enjoy exploring Anytime Teacher because there is so much to do here. See for yourself ... for free. Download the limited, non-subscription version of Anywhere Teacher and give it a try.

Don Oldenburg   ©2017 Parents' Choice
A former feature writer and consumer columnist at The Washington Post for 22 years, Don Oldenburg is the Director of Publications and Editor of the National Italian American Foundation, in Washington, D.C. He regularly reviews books for USA Today and is the coauthor of "The Washington DC-Baltimore Dog Lovers Companion" (Avalon Travel). The proud father of three sons, he lives with his journalist-author wife, Ann Oldenburg, in McLean, VA.

Look for this product at:
School Zone Publishing
http://www.schoolzone.com

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