Review by Mieke VanderBorght, Common Sense Education | Updated November 2013
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Agnitus - Personal Learning Program

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Skills-based games teach effectively, but usability issues distract

Subjects & skills
  • Math
  • English Language Arts

  • Critical Thinking
  • Character & SEL
Grades This grade range is based on learning appropriateness and doesn't take into account privacy. It's determined by Common Sense Education, not the product's publisher.
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Pros: There's a lot of age-appropriate learning content, and the challenge level grows with each kid's progress.

Cons: There are some overall usability and design issues, and a few games are confusing.

Bottom Line: Despite some design and usability issues, the learning content and solid leveling system could make it worth a try.

Agnitus - Personal Learning Program is best suited for individual play. Teachers can set up accounts for every student, but they should probably play on their own, either in the classroom or at home. Unfortunately, the app doesn't report which skills kids focus on, so teachers should be aware that play will entail a look at all skills covered in the program. Nevertheless, teachers get detailed progress reports, which can help point their classroom instruction in the right direction. While not ideal, Agnitus could be used as an assessment tool or comprehension check. Teachers, take note: Set clear time limits, as play continues indefinitely. 

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With Agnitus – Personal Learning System, kids cycle through a collection of (mostly) math and literacy games that address basic foundational skills such as counting, tracing letters, patterns, and letter recognition. Kids can choose where to start, but then games are presented at random on a continuous cycle (at least until kids click themselves out). As kids progress, the material gets more challenging to meet kids at just the right level.

Rewards-wise, kids collect stars by playing games, though the purpose of the stars is a bit unclear. Grown-ups can see very detailed progress reports, which describe what kids are playing, points out strengths and weaknesses, and provides general information about the curriculum and individual games. However, kids don't get the same reports, or much feedback on progress. Teachers who contact the developer can use Agnitus for free in their classroom.

Agnitus - Personal Learning Program has lots of well-designed games that provide great practice and opportunites for skill building. The app's biggest strength is the way the games' level of challenge grows with each student, so they're continuously challenged at their level. There's also nice in-game support for kids who are having trouble choosing the right answer. Detailed progress reports provide teachers valuable information about how and what their students are learning.

However, there are also a few games that either are poorly explained or present information without enough context. For example, the purpose of a counting game with different types of food might be confusing to some kids. Also, when a letter-tracing game announces that "L is the shape your left hand makes," more explanation could help kids connect this concept with other knowledge. The app's overall functioning and design leaves some to be desired; games jump from one topic to another, there are "posters" for unrelated games during transitions, and the audio directions sound unnatural.

Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

The games are fun with an engaging design despite the main character's lack of appeal. With so many games and constantly advancing levels, kids are likely to stay interested.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

There's solid learning content within most games. Difficulty grows to target learning. Some usability and design issues get in the way of the learning experience, though.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

There's good in-activity support for kids looking for the right answer, but little support for using the program overall. Although grown-ups can get reports, kids can't really see their own progress as they play. 

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