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Review by Jason Shiroff, Common Sense Education | Updated June 2015


Assign and monitor videos from curated but constrained library

Subjects & skills
  • Math
  • Science

Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
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Pros: Easily tracks students' viewing progress on assigned videos.

Cons: Teachers can only assign videos that are curated by Glean, and there are some key missing features.

Bottom Line: It's early days yet for this potentially useful accountability tool for flipped classrooms that's not quite up to par yet with competitors or teachers' expectations.

Teachers could use Glean when setting up a flipped classroom. Assign videos to be watched at home and use the report tool to see which students completed the assignment. Teachers could require students to ask or answer questions for each video. It doesn't seem possible to track this participation within the tool, so teachers will need to create their own exit ticket or response system to collect this feedback. Since Glean provides curated lists of videos on many topics, teachers could also use these resources for lesson planning and extension for students.

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Editor's Note: Glean is no longer available.

Glean helps teachers assign videos for students and monitor which students watched the assigned videos. Teachers can search through a library of pre-selected videos by topic; most of these videos cover science and math topics including biology, chemistry, algebra, and geometry. Videos are tagged by credentialed teachers for content and Common Core State Standards, but they're only searchable by topic. Teachers assign the videos by sharing a private URL with students, but teachers should keep in mind that they'll need to share videos one by one with students. There's no way to share a playlist of videos yet.

When students visit the video's URL, they're required to log in so their viewing progress can be tracked. Glean adds a Q&A box to each video in addition to a list of videos covering similar content. The company claims that the recommended videos match users' learning styles, and they display learning potential for each video based on this information -- a potentially big differentiator. Teachers can track their students' progress on the videos in real time using the insights report. The report doesn't show how students are participating in the Q&A sessions, or whether students are viewing other videos. Glean also claims that some videos include activities for students to complete after watching; at the time of this review, these weren't readily easy to find.

In many ways, Glean is trying to iterate on the work of Khan Academy or Gooru by providing curated educational videos from a variety of sources. However, Glean lacks the depth of features, activities/assessments, and reporting that makes these other options so useful for teachers. And while teachers could make use of Glean's reporting tools, experienced educators probably already have many ways to determine whether students watched a particular video, including entry tickets, discussion topics, journals, etc. The recommended videos -- from a library of more than 16,000 -- give students more choices on what to watch, but that variety felt more limited in practice, since some of these video links are no longer live. It's also tough to tell right now just how well the recommended videos match each user's learning style, and more information about this process would be helpful. Since it's a new tool, the Q&A section of most videos is limited, as one would expect, given the relatively small user community as is. It's unclear how Glean's developers moderate these discussions. Overall, Glean shows some potential and would be a more helpful tool with some further development, most notably allowing user-recommended/curated videos.

Overall Rating

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

The clean interface makes it easy for users to access videos and for teachers to monitor student progress.

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

Well-curated videos by actual teachers, but no ability to create playlists, assessments, or add videos. The list of related videos helps students dive deeper into class content. More features to come.

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 insights report helps visualize students' viewing progress. Users can ask questions and start discussions about a video. However, this feature hasn't quite taken off.

Common Sense Reviewer
Jason Shiroff Classroom teacher