Product: McGraw-Hill Spark!
9/27/2011 By: MaryAnn Karre
www.360ed.com Price: Contact company for pricing.
Spark! combines the engagement and collaboration
features of social networking sites and the
action of online gaming with the solid reputation
of McGraw-Hill content to “spark” educational success.
Quality and Effectiveness:
McGraw-Hill has combined
games, e-books, and social
networking to create a
suite of online courses for
high school math and science.
Spark! has been developed in
partnership with 360Ed, which has
developed software products and
solutions for such companies as
EA Sports, using a software foundation
called SiTi. This format
allows educators to turn
sometimes difficult courses
into fun digital learning environments.
Ease of Use: Spark! is compatible
with a wide variety of platforms, which
means that it has the same content
and accessibility from any Internetconnected
device, whether it is a PC,
Mac, smartphone, iPad, or Android tablet.
The interface is arranged for ease
of student use, similar to other social
networking sites. Top tabs are used to
access main sections, and banners separate
areas of interaction. At a glance,
users can see assignments, messages, news, grades, and
their current accomplishments. To make the textbooks
more accessible, large sections of text can be collapsed or
expanded and interactive links will soon be added to the
text. Highlighting any area of text brings up a highlighter
and notes option, which becomes
a search tool to locate other areas
within the textbook with related
Creative Use of Technology: It
is the combination of learning tools
that makes Spark! so effective. It
is designed to facilitate collaborative
learning; students can view each
other’s posts, compare their reading
and gaming progress, explore profiles,
and chat. Yet Spark! encourages
independent learning as well
by providing students with a variety
of areas to explore, games to play,
and simple highlighting and note taking ability. [EDITOR’S
NOTE: This reviewer did not have access to the teacher portal,
but the company reports the program will include customizable
lesson planning, a learning management system,
and professional development.]
Suitability for Use in a School
Environment: The interactivity, media content,
and Web 2.0 connectivity augment the
textbook and transform Spark! into a collaborative
curriculum that can easily be used in any high
school biology course. Although this review was
based solely on Spark! Biology and Algebra 1,
more courses are scheduled to follow soon, with
the full suite of High School Math and Science
courses available in the next year and a half.
• More than just an ebook, Spark! is a complete
• Because it is Web-based, Spark! can be accessed
from any Internet-enabled device.
• Spark! allows students to personalize their online
experience with message boards and avatars.