Thursday, June 23, 2016

LearnBop Review

Math. You either love it or hate it. Regardless of your feelings about the subject though, it's a very-needed, often-used skill. We had been using workbooks for learning, but when we had the opportunity for a subscription for LearnBop for Families, I thought it might be a good fit. The kids always love using the computer and it would be a nice change.

LearnBop is an interactive math learning system for K-12 grades. The program is designed to respond to a student's answers. The step-by-step method personalizes the learning like a tutor would. A student can move past what he already understands and focus on concepts that he struggles with.

Setting up our family plan was simple. I created a profile for each of the older kids (10, 8, 6 yr) by inputting their names, creating user names and passwords, allowing them to choose an avatar, and then picking a roadmap for their learning. The avatars are really cute. There are male and female versions of Pirate Navigators, Astronauts, Codebreakers (spies), Fashion Designers, Celebrity Chefs, and Hollywood Animators. Each of the characters possesses a special math power, like cryptography, linear algebra, and Newton's Laws of Motion. The powers have no effect on anything, but are just cute additions to the characters.

Choosing a Learning Roadmap is the most important part. You pick what your student will be studying. There's the option for an entire grade's curriculum (3rd-12th) or a specific concept.

  • Operations & Algebraic Thinking
  • Numbers & Operations in Base Ten
  • Measurement & Data
  • Geometry
  • Number & Operations-Fraction
  • Ratios & Proportional Relationships
  • The Number System
  • Expressions & Equations
  • Statistics & Probability
  • Functions    
There are also a few high school roadmaps. After a topic is chosen, the student completes a quick Warm-Up for each unit. This evaluation identifies any missing knowledge that he needs to work on. From there, the system personalizes the roadmap to focus on the student's needs.  The instruction is given through short videos with examples. The student has the option of watching the videos first or heading straight to the exercises if he already has a grasp on the concepts. If he can master the problems with 90% accuracy, he may move on to the next area of learning. Every incorrect answer will lower his percentage, giving him more time to understand the information. Each incorrect answer gives him the option to go step-by-step through that specific exercise so he understands what the correct answer should be.

My kids can easily move through the program using their dashboard. It shows what concept they are working through, what percentage they have completed, and where they are in the process. They can see which videos have been completed and which step is next. It also shows the activity on the site for the past week like time spent, "bops'" and videos completed, concepts mastered, and more.  

While I appreciate the ability to personalize their learning, there are some things about this program that I find frustrating. For instance, it is aligned to Common Core standards. While that doesn't affect many of the concepts, there are some that are very confusing, even to me. Simple problems that should have been very easy to my kids (I have seen them complete similar examples in other materials, after all) left them clueless. Also, some of the technical aspects of the program could be made better. For example, in some visual exercises, the kids were supposed to answer the questions where a blank box was. The problem is that often the box was not by where it should have been (like on a graph or number line) so it seemed like it was asking for something else. The biggest issue though was that the questions did not fit on the screen. The kids would have to scroll down to another page. The question would be at the top, the answer choices would be at the bottom, and then they were supposed to drag the answer back to the top again. Everything for each question should be on one visible screen.

This example doesn't show the answer needing to be dragged back to the top, but it does show the need to scroll.

Unfortunately, this program was not a good fit for us. That does not mean that it's a bad choice  for everyone though. In fact, LearnBop has won many awards and has helped many students. If you'd like to see how this program worked for other homeschool families, please read the reviews on the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.

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