Common Sense Review
Updated June 2015

School of Dragons

Science MMORPG fosters solid learning opportunities ... with dragons
Common Sense Rating 4
Teacher Rating
Not Yet Rated
  • Students can customize their dragon trainer character.
  • Students choose their own dragon egg, which they they hatch.
  • Practice flying dragons through many obstacle courses.
  • Students walk their characters around, completing quests, doing activities, and playing mini-games.
  • One of the activities is to maintain a farm, growing crops and raising sheep.
Game is engaging, fun, and open-ended, and it should appeal to casual and serious gamers alike.
Learning is inconsistent and somewhat incomplete within the game.
Bottom Line
Open-ended exploring is great fun; use the online extension activities for a more a complete learning experience.
Jenny Bristol
Common Sense Reviewer
Homeschooling parent/instructor
Common Sense Rating 4
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 4

This game immerses students, continually dangling new quests and challenges before them. Kids are rewarded for completing tasks, and the open-ended play encourages them to explore.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 3

The game itself doesn't have enough depth for serious learning, but extension activities can help teachers build a complete lesson. The online community also encourages varied participation.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 4

Levels, badges, and in-game money all tally students' successes, while the tutorial, hints, and guidance along the way keep students on the right track if they aren't sure what to do next.

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How Can Teachers Use It?

Teachers can use School of Dragons as a relatively educational game that adds much fun to science lessons, or it can be played by students who finish lessons early. If teachers also use the grade-appropriate resources on the website, the game can be part of a complete lesson on a variety of science topics, both general and specific. The game is also full of opportunities for lessons on evaluating media messages, between the messages from other players in the chat window and the constant messages that their experience would be improved if only they became paying members.

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What's It Like?

School of Dragons is an engrossing MMORPG where players take lessons at the school on the path to becoming an Ultimate Dragon Trainer. There are science lessons and instructive elements scattered throughout the game and its environment. The game begins like other MMORPGs, with students creating a character and soon thereafter hatching their own dragon. As their dragon matures, players learn about dragon training through flying practice, growing crops to feed dragons, flying exercises, and play. A thorough tutorial helps players get oriented, and then players can complete tasks to gain XP (experience points), UDT (Ultimate Dragon Trainer points), and level up. Players walk around the School of Dragons world, completing quests and tasks and following directions. Once they're oriented, kids are free to explore on their own, revisiting the Farm to grow more food, fishing, and learning from the teachers. All of this serves to level up the character, gain experience, earn coins and gems, and move them toward training their own dragon. A player's dragon can only fly once it's been leveled up sufficiently. Guiding arrows can show players where to go next, but this can also be turned off. The game has a typical WASD-space bar navigation. The guide book keeps each player up to date on everything they need to do and all of their scores.

Since this is an MMORPG, there are many opportunities for interacting with other players: by being "friends" with them, joining clans, using the chat ability, and more. Outside the game, there is also an active online community with forums and many other ways to share the experience, such as through making fan art, fan fiction, and more. One important thing to note is that, while this game can be played totally for free, players are continually bombarded with reminders that they will get a "better" experience by becoming members (i.e., paying for the game). Every time students purchase something from the store with in-game money, they are reminded of the discount that members receive. They are given the opportunity frequently to click on buttons that take them to screens to sign up as members. 

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Is It Good For Learning?

While School of Dragons has plenty of science woven into the story line, that content shows up a bit sporadically. It's a game first, education second, but there's still plenty of learning to be had. If playing alone, students would likely gain some science knowledge as they unlocked content, but it's the extension activities on the website that make the experience much more complete. There, students can play science games, find worksheets, and get experiment ideas. Within the game, most of the science is worked into the story line, but some parts are a little separate: For example, the Hiccup's Scientific Method videos pull students out of the dragon-training world for a bit. Still, if they play extensively, students will definitely gain science knowledge as they take classes from the dragon trainers and practice skills. The game covers an extensive list of science topics, including the Scientific Method, Physical Science (matter, motion and forces, energy, waves and information transfer), Life Science (organisms, ecosystems, heredity, biological evolution), Earth Science (maps, Earth's systems, meteorology, geology, astronomy), Engineering Design, and Archaeology. These are all unlocked gradually throughout the gameplay, involving students with interactive content, so players (and teachers) need to be patient to reach the meaty material. There's a useful reference manual in-game as well, where much of the science reference content gets unlocked gradually.

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See how teachers are using School of Dragons