Review by Amanda Bindel, Common Sense Education | Updated November 2013

Da Vinci HD

Virtual gallery lacks in-depth info on the artist or his works

Subjects & skills
  • Arts
  • Social Studies

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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5 images

Pros: Images look amazing on HD iPad screen.

Cons: The only background information is from Wikipedia links.

Bottom Line: Collection is far from complete and lacks background information about works.

Teachers could use the paintings or works included to teach art appreciation and literacy, exposing students to culturally significant and famous works. Art teachers could show the sketches in the different studies sections to explain technique or the genius of Da Vinci's works. Writing teachers could use paintings as writing prompts. Art, History, and ELA teachers could collaborate on a cross-curricular research project, using Da Vinci HD as a starting point for students to choose a work representing a historical event or person for further research.

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Da Vinci HD highlights Leonardo Da Vinci's works in 11 easy-to-navigate categories. Verrochio's Workshop includes six works from Da Vinci's years studying under Andrea del Verrocchio, 13 works from his professional years, four from his old age years, as well as "The Battle of Anghiari," his "lost painting." There are also studies of paintings, head studies, various studios, anatomical studies, and studies of nature, each showing sketches that give a glimpse into the artist's mind. The categories on architecture and sculpture showcase a few of his works in those areas. Within each category, some works are shown in more detail with close-ups and some include links to Wikipedia, either about the subject (like a general Wikipedia article on the Annunciation linked to the painting of it) or the actual work (like "The Battle of Anghiari"). Favorite works can be bookmarked within the app, saved to the device's camera roll, or shared by email. iTunes asks for verification that the buyer is over 17 due to nudity in some of the images.

The images do reproduce beautifully on the iPad HD screen, and it's convenient to have a nice selection of images easily accessible on the device, but there's quite a bit lacking to make this ideal for learning. First, Wikipedia isn't the best source of information, yet it's the only source included for background. There are no links to information about Da Vinci himself, and most of the Wikipedia entries aren't specifically about the art but are instead about the subject of the art (though usually Da Vinci's work is mentioned in the entries). Second, the classical music doesn't match the time periods of the works, which would enhance the educational appeal of the app. For example, Bach's Toccata and Fugue, from the Baroque era of the 1800s, accompanies the images from Verrochio's Workshop (which is actually misspelled in the app), which spans 1466 to 1476. The studies, though, are fascinating and offer a glimpse into the author's mind. Overall, the images and information included are easy to find online without the misinformation presented in this app.

Overall Rating

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

Beyond appreciating Da Vinci's works, which are breathtaking in HD, there's not much to engage kids. They can scroll through the images on their own or watch them in a movie progression, with or without classical music accompaniment.

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

Information about each piece is pretty slim -- from a Wikipedia link about the subjects. There's just not much depth. There is likely to be some transfer of recognizing the work and title for kids who are interested.

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

Navigation is intuitive, and kids can share favorite works via email or save them to the photo stream or bookmark them in app.

Common Sense Reviewer
Amanda Bindel Classroom teacher

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