Review by Seann Dikkers, Common Sense Education | Updated February 2013

Ko's Journey

Story-based game with math puzzles feels like work

Subjects & skills
  • Math

  • Critical Thinking
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (2 Reviews)

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Pros: Extended story problems integrate math computations.

Cons: Gameplay is repetitive and dull, and some confusing problems require extensive classroom support.

Bottom Line: Though it's more fun than worksheets, this game's engagement factor is so low that kids may dread it.

Unlike other math games, such as Manga High or Dimension MKo's Journey doesn't adjust to or have ability levels; the designers planned the game to be tightly connected to classroom lessons and practice so students would come prepared to solve problems. It does equip you with easy access to student progress in the form of data feedback. Kids can progress over multiple logins, and they, too, can see a screen that shows their position in the story.

You can set up an account and negotiate a school rate for the game. The individual rate per student is $39.

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Ko's Journey uses the story of Ko to teach fractions, x-y coordinates, ratios, volume, and multi-step story problems.

Ko's Journey suffers from the "chocolate-covered broccoli" issue many math games struggle with. The game by itself is not entertaining; the player has minimal control over activities. For instance, in mini-games about hunting and gathering, the player does nothing but wait for the random result to pop up. Video explanations play only after players complete the math. All sections have one "right" answer, and problems can be frustrating. Some problems are initially complex and require returning to explanations multiple times. Kids may even feel incompetent, especially if they have to replay audio instructions multiple times with classmates listening in. 

If students already have some exposure to the concepts, they'll find this game better than worksheets but not as fun as informal gaming.

Overall Rating

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

Ko's Journey is designed for classroom use and might be more interesting than worksheets, but it's not entertaining in itself.  

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

This is drill practice, and the app is built on traditional pedagogical principals. Still, the story does add some context. 

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

This product is built as a classroom supplement, and the supports and planning tools are its greatest -- though perhaps only -- strength.

Common Sense Reviewer
Seann Dikkers Researcher

Teacher Reviews

(See all 2 reviews) (2 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Susan R. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Lebanon High School
Lebanon, United States
Interesting, relatable math game

Ko’s Journey starts out interesting.

The game toggles between Ko and her adventure to get to the hidden valley where Ko will be reunited with her grandfather, and some real kids recreating the same journey in a video.

It’s an interesting concept that demonstrates real life experience with concepts and practices in the game play.

The game is aligned with Common Core and intended for the 6th and 7th grade levels. The game is somewhat intuitive but some aspects didn’t seem clear, like knowing how to operate the compass in the beginning.

The game allows for a teacher to add students to the game, and each added student is provided a username and password.

Students can log in from anywhere (the game is flash based and therefore cannot be used on an iPad) or anytime.

As long as the student logs in with their unique username and password the game will record each student’s progress allowing the teacher to follow the successful completion of each unit in the game, by each student.

The animated graphics were not great, but the story telling in the game about Ko and the journey was interesting.

The fact that after completing the practice unit, you were immediately brought to the modern day video, that demonstrated real life use of what was just practiced was a bit confusing, but also created relevance.

Ko’s Journey is web-based making access easy.

There appears to be a good pedagogy in place and the game maker claims it has increased student test scores by up to 50%.

While I found the game interesting, it seemed to be very slow paced.

I would be concerned that for 11-13 years old, it just simply too slow.

However, if students only spent short bursts of time on it, say 20 minutes at a time, it might work to keep their interest enough to finish the game.

It seemed a student could finish a unit in a 15 – 30 minute time frame.

A step-by-step guide is provided as a teacher resource.

Was unable to get access to the pricing structure.

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