Review by Emily Major, Common Sense Education | Updated May 2018

CODAP

Drag and drop data to investigate nearly any subject

Subjects & skills
Subjects
  • Math
  • Science
  • Social Studies

Skills
  • Critical Thinking
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
6–12
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Pros: Powerful options to play around with data and have fun with informative graphs.

Cons: The interface is a bit confusing and can be hard to manage at times; a lot of pre-work is needed by teachers to make it useful.

Bottom Line: A bit awkward to use, but far more engaging than traditional spreadsheet/graphing tools.

We all have data in almost every class we teach, and CODAP is a versatile (if somewhat confusing) little program that lets us investigate it all in a fun and friendly way. Science teachers can explore population data or use the map function to look at climate change impact across the world. Math teachers will appreciate the ease with which students can explore linear relations and how they can use the equation capabilities to explore a variety of mathematical concepts. Even history teachers can look at the relationships between historical events and their effects on the world during that time period. As long as you have data or equations you can use CODAP to investigate them.

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Similar to other spreadsheet/graphing programs, CODAP allows students to create datasets and investigate relationships by dragging different "cases" and "attributes" to each axis on a graph. CODAP provides some sample sets to get started and introduces users to what type of investigations are possible. Teachers or students can input their own data collected from experiments in real-world settings or import data from Google Drive or a local file, making it much easier to share a single set of data with the whole class.

Users can quickly change the data being compared by simply clicking and dragging the headings to the desired axis. There's also the ability to include sliders that let students dynamically change the data to see what effect it has on what they're studying. Students can export their images and graphs to include in projects and presentations for assessment, and CODAP files can be stored locally or saved directly to Google Drive for sharing and collaboration.

Overall, CODAP is a very interesting program that can make learning dynamic if students are given the right questions and problems to solve; with carefully guided questions and varied datasets, students can have a lot of fun exploring data. As a bonus, the sample datasets provided are great for getting ideas flowing on what's possible. CODAP also promotes digital literacy and encourages students to look at data in a number of different ways. If you have data you want to explore, students could gain a lot out of this unique and engaging tool.

That being said, as a program on its own, CODAP can be frustrating for students: They may get lost and overwhelmed with the number of variations and comparisons available to them. The interface itself can also be cluttered at times, especially if you're on a smaller screen like a laptop or tablet (even cutting off required buttons and functions). The way the data is organized into "cases" and "attributes" can also be a bit confusing as can the way tables are broken down into "parent" and "child" datasets. There were a few issues with selecting and highlighting specific data -- and then switching the selections -- as well. When a graph is initially created, random data is selected and provided in an unlabeled and unorganized scatter plot, which may be confusing for students until they get used to it. This means that CODAP relies a lot on the teacher to create authentic learning experiences and provide support for students. 

Overall Rating

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

CODAP easily allows students to manipulate data and see patterns, but since they'll only be as engaged as the data provided and questions asked. a lot relies on the teacher to keep them interested.

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

CODAP uses a unique "click and drag" method that encourages students to be inventive and play with data. This means more time learning and less time fighting with the tool.

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

The program is pretty straightforward, after a bit of playing around with it. Some limited sample datasets and a brief set of intro tutorials are provided, though most support comes from a community forum that seems reasonably active.


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