Houghton Mifflin Harcourt distinguishes its social studies program from similar programs, such as Discovery Education's middle school social studies program and Neo12's online material, in that it makes most of its material accessible to anyone for free. Discovery Education and NeoK12 require purchase and registration to access most program material.
The Harcourt Social Studies Center divides into four categories. The Harcourt Social Studies category provides interactive lessons that present reading material and engage students in games and projects. In this aspect it is similar to both Discovery Education and NeoK12's programs, both of which also present their material through digital and interactive lessons. Discovery Education only offers its interactive material via registration, as does NeoK12 with most of its material, although the latter does provide a limited number of lesson videos for free viewing. By contrast, visitors to Harcourt Social Studies pages have access to primary source documents, biographies and virtual field trips.
Both Harcourt Social Studies and Discovery Education provide primary and secondary source material to educators, the main difference being that Discovery Education places much of this material within the program itself, whereas Harcourt links to the pages of other institutions that provide the material, such as the Library of Congress and the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.