Christmas Traditions around the World

Looking for a holiday activity for the classroom?  CountryReports has an ornament activity for younger students centered around the use of a country map.  Older students can learn about how different countries celebrate the Christmas holiday.   Take a look at the Christmas Traditions content which is found under Activities – Learn by Topic.  In addition, CountryReports has various creche photos from around the world to view.

mexicocreche

The Christmas traditions content piece is intended to educate how people around the world celebrate this major world holiday.  Like other religious content found within CountryReports, the content does not advocate one religion over another.

Visit:  https://www.countryreports.org/topic/christmas.htm .

United States Edition- Re-Invented

CountryReports has launched a complete re-design and major upgrade to our United States Edition.    Improvements include new content,  user interface and a simplified navigation system, etc.  If you have overlooked our United States Edition in the past, now is a great time to take a look.

The United States Edition is primarily targeted towards a younger audience for example an elementary school, but all ages can benefit from it’s vast content.

With the launch of the new product, CountryReports now has the ability to add additional features and content that were previously unavailable under the old design and infrastructure.  For example, check out our new collection of widgets for use with the United States Edition.  Click on the image below to view the new edition!

United States Edition- Home Page

London Summer Games

With London hosting the summer games, there are a few content areas within CountryReports that may be of interest.  For example, CountryReports has the national flag and national anthems for each of the world countries.  Want to understand what the flag symbolizes?  We have it.  Ever want to re-listen to a national anthem or sing along using lyrics?  We have that as well.

As for learning more about the host country Great Britain please visit our United Kingdom entry.  Useful links:

National Flags

National Anthems

The United Kingdom

Focus Country: Peru

This month, one of our staff members will be leaving for a two year sabbatical to Peru.  Thus, our selection of Peru as the Focus Country for February 2012.

Inca Ruins at Machu Picchu

Inca Ruins at Machu Picchu

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Some interesting facts about Peru that may not be commonly known:

– The Andes have more people living in them than any other mountain range in the world.  The highest home in the world is a shepherd’s hut in the Andes at 17,000 feet.

– Peru has the world’s highest navigable body of water. Lake Titicaca is 3,800 meters above sea level.

– Peru is considered to be the archeological capital of South America. The Lost City of the Incas, called Machu Picchu, is located in the Andes Mountains. It is called lost because the Incas abandoned it and the city remained unknown to explorers for several centuries.

The main staples in the Peruvian diet include rice, beans, fish, and a variety of tropical fruits.   Many families in Peru live on the equivalent of $1.00 a day, so food is scarce for many in Peru.

Peruvian Flag

 
 
 
 
 
According to legend, General Jose de San Martin saw a great number of flamingos when he arrived in Peru in 1820.  Taking this as a good omen, he decided that white and red should be the colors of the Peruvian Legion that he founded to liberate Peru.  The white represents peace, dignity, and progress.  The red symbolizes war and courage.  In the state flag the arms show symbols of the animal kingdom, vegetable kingdom, and mineral kingdom.  The laurel wreath above the shield is a symbol of the republic.  The palm and laurel wreath around the shield is a symbol of peace and the will to defend the country.

2011: The year forward for CountryReports

CountryReports appreciates all our members and their loyalty.    As 2011 draws to a close, a glimpse back provides a sneak peak forward if you know what to look for.

While many education providers in our industry saw diminishing returns due to the economy, CountryReports had another year of growth.  Member support provided the groundwork for new content (35,000 pages and growing)  and web site enhancements.   In looking back, a few highlights were:

  1. The launch of the brand new CountryReports web site
  2. Attending the American Library Association meeting in New Orleans
  3. Attending the Texas Library Association meeting in Austin
  4. Participating in the American Association of School Librarians in Minneapolis
  5. The addition of new content and enhancements to the CountryReports web site

Again, thank you for making 2011 a year of progress which lays the foundation for another great year in 2012.  We have the greatest customers!

self

Founder

CountryReports: Delivers Content to the World

CountryReports delivers timely accurate content to predominantly an American audience.  However, a little known aspect of CountryReports is that we serve content to a world wide audience.  Schools from diverse places like Kathmandu, Shanghai, Mumbai, Kuala Lumpur and elsewhere rely on CountryReports to provide content that their students need.

One benefit of serving a world wide audience is the ability to tap into local resources.  Who knows the local culture better?   In addition, to our employed experts (researchers, writers and editors), local customers  keep “us honest”  should portions of our content need additional review.

Below is a brief glimpse into the world that uses CountryReports:

Top Five Foreign Cities Using CountryReports:

  1. Manila, Phillipines
  2. London, England
  3. Mexico City, Mexico
  4. Bogota, Colombia
  5. Sydney, Australia

Top Five Foreign Countries Using CountryReports:

  1. Canada
  2. United Kingdom
  3. Mexico
  4. Germany
  5. Australia

Bottom Five Foreign Countries Using CountryReports:

  1. Sao Tome and Principe
  2. Svalbard and Jan Mayen
  3. Christmas Island
  4. Wallis and Futuna
  5. Falkland Islands

Top Five World Regions Using CountryReports:

  1. Western Europe
  2. Northern Europe
  3. South America
  4. Central America
  5. Southern Asia

Emerging markets and third world countries are expanding Internet access throughout their societies.  CountryReports has already published content in Spanish, French and German to meet the demands of foreign schools that need educational content.  CountryReports will continue to focus on English speaking customers, but it is a win for domestic customers and CountryReports to serve up educational content to a foreign audience.

American Association of School Librarians (AASL) Conference 2011

On October 27-29th, CountryReports attended the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Our staff looks forward to this conference over all others in part because it is held every two years, but also because so many of our members from around the nation attend. It is a great opportunity to visit, catch up on local developments and to solicit feedback for future product development.

This year the conference did not disappoint. Numerous school librarians came to visit our booth, some from as far away as Alaska, Hawaii and even Poland. While economic circumstances have impacted both schools and vendors, the conference was still a great success. It was noticeable that vendors gave less away in the form of books and attendees had less money to spend. This is just the way it is at this time in American history. Several thanked us for keeping our prices affordable. CountryReports has not increased membership costs for over three years.

Minneapolis was a great city. It was most interesting to see how the city makes use of a network of skybridges. One can walk the entire city without ever leaving the skybridges that run throughout the city. This system combined with public transit and a subway system impressed our staff. The downtown district, unlike many other US cities, was full of activity as a combination of retail, residential and commercial made for an interesting mix of people. The locals that our staff interacted with were most friendly.

Our United States Edition, which is written for a younger audience, profiles Minnesota should one want to explore Minnesota further.  Just click here.

CountryReports Access Made Easy

In March 2011, CountryReports provided a QR Code for access to CountryReports using a bar code scanner or smart phone.  In July 2011, we launched a Countries Widget which allowed one to select a country profile from outside the CountryReports web site.  Now, CountryReports is pleased to provide additional tools that make access easy.

Our new Search Widget allows content to be searched remotely without  the need to actually visit CountryReports.  Simply, insert code into your site and begin searching CountryReports!   Below is an example search widget:

CountryReports Search Widget

In addition, we are providing custom URL’s that will automatically log students into CountryReports.  This tool is found within the “Manage your Membership” page which is accessible to account admins.   Simply use the embedded URL  provided by the student access portion of the admin page.  This tool is great for students which are logging into a secure school web site from home and need access to resources purchased by the school.

The QR code, search widget and countries widgets all can be found on the “Get Your Widget” page.  Find the tool that works best for you and enjoy access made easy!

Satisfaction Survey Results 2011

Satisfaction Survey Results 2011

Customer satisfaction is key to any business relationship.  At CountryReports, our products and services are developed primarily from the feedback we receive.  In other words, the content you see within CountryReports has been derived from the user feedback we have received over the years.  We recently conducted our annual customer satisfaction survey and will now share some results.

Overall members are quite satisfied with CountryReports and feel their subscription is a very good value.  100% of elementary, middle and high school members are somewhat likely or very likely to recommend CountryReports to their peers or colleagues, with 89% being very likely.  Only 2% of customers were somewhat unlikely to refer a peer and no member indicated that they were very unlikely to refer someone.

Over 90% of members are somewhat or very likely to renew their subscription.  Even though the CountryReports online database contains over 35,000 pages of content on countries, the one thing respondents wanted more than anything else was more content.    The world is a big place, but you can never have enough information about it.  We will continue to add new content as we too cannot get enough “of it” ourselves!

High schools were the most satisfied with 83% being very satisfied, followed closely by elementary schools and middle schools.  Not a single customer gave CountryReports a dissatisfied rating.  The number one reason why a member elected to not renew was due to budget constraints.  We recognize that these are difficult economic times and thus elected to freeze our prices again during 2011.  A single school can still obtain access to all our products for under $150 making it among the most reasonably priced educational resource on the Internet.

We appreciate the 100 plus members that took the time to give feedback.

Widgets, Usage, Governance and Peeps, Oh My!

This summer has been a busy time for our staff.  A semi-annual content review was completed where among other things, demographic, government and economic data was updated.  While we conduct updates throughout the year, we do an exhaustive review at least twice a year to ensure that our content remains current.   The world is a big place, but we strive to keep abreast of the changes that occur.

In addition to content, we are pleased to inform our members that our Customer Admin area now has several new features that have been in demand.  First, one may now view and create their own usage reports.  An admin may also manage student access, add products, renew their membership and obtain a handy “Widget” that can be inserted into their own web site to make getting to CountryReports even easier.    Click Here for our Admin Page.

Below is an example Widget.  Click on it to obtain your insertion code:

CountryReports: Attends AASL- Top 25 Web Sites Seminar

In an effort to constantly improve our product offering, we sent a staff member to attend the “AASL Top 25 Web Sites for Teaching and Learning” seminar which was held at the American Library Association (ALA) annual convention in New Orleans.  The day long seminar demonstrated what school librarians need in the way of online resources and what features they considered best.  The actual list of web sites reviewed can be found here.

Tour boat in New Orleans

In a nutshell, we discovered that schools are looking for ways to migrate away from the traditional “poster board” and instead use online tools that permit students to collaborate on projects and share them with other students in the classroom.  The other interesting aspect was that most of the web sites discussed were not content providers, but use content in order to function.  For example, a storyboard or timeline feature would need content to populate a given program.

This is where CountryReports comes into play.  With over 35,000 pages of usable content, schools can insert our content into various web site tools as students generate reports and complete assigned projects.  One popular feature we offer is for students to use country recipes and photos within their projects.  While the Internet continues to create fun new ways of learning, content remains key to a students success.

New web site showcased at Texas Library Association (TLA)

CountryReports will unveil its new web site at the Texas Library Association (TLA) meeting on April 13-14th, 2011.    We look forward to getting feedback from our Texas friends before we launch the site for the rest of the world.  Among other things, the new version improves navigation, provides new ways to view content, gives the user more control of their membership and overall provides for a better experience.

We love being in Texas and look forward to seeing our friends at TLA in Austin.

CountryReports: Once again keeps prices low.

Schools across America are trying to manage budgets like never before.  CountryReports has received many inquiries about pricing for the 2011-2012 school year.
 
CountryReports prices will remain the same through 2011.  This will mark the second year in a row CountryReports has been able to hold our prices.  Our mission is to provide quality content at an affordable rate.
 
With our dynamic new website, coming by April, your students will continue to benefit from an exceptional resource for less than $75 a year.