How I Use It
I have used this in two ways so far in my classroom - as a full class and as individuals. Students have been engaged either way, as when I am doing it as a class, I project the simulation on the screen at the front of the room and allow students to take turns controlling the simulation as everyone fills out the worksheets together. Having the students work as individuals takes more time and is less efficient because students often like to just "try stuff" to see what happens in the simulation rather than focusing on the specific instructions that they are supposed to be following. On the other hand, they are more engaged and definitely report to have learned from the experience and excitement about doing it again.
I think that this product has a lot of fantastic simulations available for students on a variety of subject areas. The way that it is organized by state, grade level, and standard makes it easy to find simulations that fit with the curriculum you are trying to teach. I found the worksheets straight forward and that, with a bit of instruction, there was enough standardization among the simulations that students were able to become more and more independent the more comfortable they became. The drawbacks are that you only get a 30 day free trial and then you have to pay. Unless you have a district that is willing to foot the bill, this may not be something that you are really able to take advantage of. We are adopting this program this year and I am looking forward to learning some of the additional tools that are available such as adding students to a class and giving assignments through the system. It is my understanding that they have made it a priority to get these simulations compatible with mobile devices, but for now, you need to know that students can only access this with a computer, laptop, or netbook.