Common Sense Review
Updated June 2015

Gooru

Personalized tool fosters exploration, teacher-led meaningful learning
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Common Sense Rating 4
  • Gooru lets teachers create custom collections of web-based resources for their classroom.
  • An active educator community offers tips and best practices for using the tool in your classroom.
  • There are tons of teacher-made collections to choose from, or teachers can create their own.
  • Resources are consistently standards-aligned.
Pros
A well-stocked, free, all-in-one platform for learning about almost any topic through the Web's variety of resources.
Cons
Some resources don’t function perfectly within the Gooru window; it can be time-consuming to search, create, and remix collections.
Bottom Line
A great portal for supplementing classroom instruction; supports independent and personalized learning.
Mary Beth Hertz
Common Sense Reviewer
Classroom teacher
Common Sense Rating 4
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 4

A wide range of high-interest resources are available; engagement will depend on the collections teachers create and remix. Opportunities for independent and personalized learning should motivate students.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 4

Each topic includes a variety of content types, from videos and interactive tools to digital textbook chapters. The analytics tool allows teachers and students to monitor progress. Resources are aligned to CCSS and NGSS.

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

The Gooru Support Center includes information on troubleshooting, classroom uses, and new features. Video tutorials and FAQs will help teachers understand all of the different ways Gooru can be used to support student learning.

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How Can Teachers Use It?

Gooru would be a very effective way to personalize extended learning in a middle school or high school classroom. Students in need of enrichment can work through collections while a teacher could circulate, doing one-on-one intervention. Alternately, teachers could assign Gooru collections as out-of-class activities, either for reinforcement or remediation. In class, teachers might create collections for students to explore during a more constructivist learning unit. Most collections are divided into a Study section and a Practice section. The Study section has a sequential series of YouTube videos, websites, online courses, and other resources; teachers can use this tool to let students explore while also guiding their instruction.

Existing collections in the library are also customizable, so teachers can mix and match and even revise content to gear it toward the specific needs of their students. Alternately, for an extension activity, students looking to explore a new subject could build and share their own collection of materials.

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What's It Like?

Gooru functions as a sort of search engine for online lessons and learning materials. Its slick interface makes it very simple to find curated resources, like videos, interactive activities, digital textbooks, and websites. Most of the curated content centers around core academic subjects: math, language arts, social studies, and science. Teachers (or students) can organize resources into collections that are viewable by their classes or by other online viewers with the link to their collections.

Students and teachers don't need a Gooru account to search the site or browse collections. They can search by subject area and drill down to specific lessons ("collections") within each topic. For teachers, collections within most courses also indicate which Common Core State Standards or Next Generation Science Standards align with the materials. While resources might originate from anywhere on the Web, Gooru users view them as they're embedded within the site's interface. With a free account, teachers can create collections for their students to view in a specific order, presumably giving purpose to an overall learning arc. The site is set up to allow easy transitions between video clips, digital textbook chapters, and websites, and all navigation takes place within the Gooru window. 

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Is It Good For Learning?

Gooru excels with its built-in assessments. Many topics -- mostly within the math and science sections -- end with a short quiz. As students take the quizzes, they get immediate feedback. Students can even change their answers if at first they choose an incorrect response, but note that each quiz concludes with a score based on students' first responses to each question. The assessments do a good job of promoting metacognition and students' ownership over their learning; however, in the end they're still quizzes rather than more holistic assessment of learning. The analytics tool allows teachers and students to monitor engagement, comprehension, and progress. This feature helps teachers differentiate learning, and it's available when teachers create a class and students choose to share their results.

Overall, the site's all-in-one-window approach helps keep it relatively distraction-free. Some items, though, such as the digital textbook pages, don't always load correctly in the Study mode. Every part of a collection also has an option for narration or customizable directions (which can help guide students through a challenging learning path). These can help students work independently, but the Narrations are only viewable as text; struggling readers or visually impaired students may need more support.

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See how teachers are using Gooru