Website review by Sandy Wisneski, Common Sense Education | Updated October 2019

Genius Plaza

Global learning platform offers variety, can be difficult to use

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Grades
Pre-K–12 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.
Subjects & Skills
Critical Thinking

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Pros: Variety of tools for both teachers and students to demonstrate learning.

Cons: Confusing platform to learn; difficult help section.

Bottom Line: An opportunity to access resources from around the world, if teachers can take the time to learn the program.

Teachers can search Genius Plaza resources by age, content, or language and then assign them to students, track work completion, and monitor student progress. Students connect with the teacher classroom through a code and can create their own Sparks to demonstrate their learning.

The Spark tools can also be used to create teacher-made videos, ebooks, exercises, vocabulary sets, and worksheets. Additional gaming tools include Hangman, Millionaire, Fish Diet, Numberlandia, and Writing Bee, which teachers can personalize for their content. A collaborative feature includes the ability to connect with schools around the globe by selecting existing projects or by creating a new one, but this seemed to be limited in opportunities at the time of this review.

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Genius Plaza is a global learning platform with creation tools and ready-to-use resources for grades pre-K through 12. Teachers and students can use the creation tools (called "Sparks"), which include videos, ebooks, exercises, vocabulary sets, worksheets, and more. The culturally diverse Resource Bank contains user-created Sparks from teachers and students around the world; Genius Plaza serves communities in 35 countries, and communication tools are available in over 80 languages. Subject categories currently include language arts, math, science, and careers.

Teachers can assign their own Sparks to students or assign resources from the Resource Bank. A teacher dashboard displays student progress on the assigned exercises. The Collaborate feature lets teachers request to work with a partner class; students from both classes can create Sparks and meet via a videoconference. 

Genius Plaza offers a way for students to extend their learning using creation tools like ebooks, videos, and games. Teachers can search the learning resources, but depending on the content area, results may be limited and vary in quality. However, resources are available in different languages and allow teachers to send notifications to students and parents in over 25 languages. And the data collected from student work completion is well organized on the teacher platform.

When teachers create their own Spark, Genius Plaza needs to approve it first, which may be a downside if teachers want to use the material immediately. In fact, all material that's in the resources section has been approved prior to publishing, including student work.

Genius Plaza can be difficult to use initially and takes time to navigate and understand, especially if teachers want to create their own materials. A FAQ and help files are available but aren't easy to follow -- especially when creating Sparks from scratch -- which can be frustrating.

Overall Rating

Engagement Would it motivate students and hold their interest? Is it visually appealing? Would it inspire teachers to try something new or change their instruction?

Global platform has interactive options to create meaningful learning resources and connect with students and parents; collaboration with other schools is currently limited. 

Pedagogy Does the tool help teachers promote a more student-centered experience? Will students gain conceptual understanding or think critically? Does it deepen teachers’ pedagogical thinking?

The program's basis is solid, giving teachers tools to create or use shared content and assign activities. It's confusing to use, however, and teacher-created materials must be preapproved.

Support Can students and teachers get assistance when they need it? Is it created with people of different abilities and backgrounds in mind? Is learning reinforced and extended beyond the digital experience?

Videos and a FAQ are available but difficult to understand and apply, especially when creating new content.  


Common Sense reviewer
Sandy Wisneski Classroom teacher

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