Common Sense Review
Updated November 2012

Lumosity

Delightful mental workouts are sure to stretch brain power
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Common Sense Rating 4
Pros
Games feel like games, not work or study, and the hard neuroscience behind the platform is very encouraging.
Cons
To get the full benefit of Lumosity's training, the free version won't cut it.
Bottom Line
Well-designed, science-backed brain games give kids a chance to expand their minds and have fun at the same time.
Polly Conway
Common Sense Reviewer
Classroom teacher
Common Sense Rating 4
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 4

Lumosity keeps games short, light, and simple, so even if you don't love a particular activity, you'll be done before you know it. Design is lovely and adds warmth to sometimes austere brain training.  

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

This site does an excellent job of baking in real brain exercise into seemingly silly or simple games, and the focus skills that kids can learn here will transfer to their work and study future. 

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

A great video explains the science behind Lumosity's activities and method. Each game has a set of instructions that you can view before playing, and there's an FAQ addressing technical issues as well as general advice. 

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How Can Teachers Use It?

It would be extremely expensive to buy a subscription to Lumosity for each student in a class. However, tucked deep into its website, there is an application for the Lumosity Education Access Program (LEAP), which provides free use of Lumosity for schools in exchange for feedback on the program.

Playing a round of Lumosity games could help students settle in and focus before a quiz or challenging classroom activity -- there's research stating that Lumosity activities may help kids with ADD stay on track. You can also use the site as a reward for good behavior; kids will be happy to play fun games, while you can feel good about their learning potential. Some Lumosity activities are focused on memory and math, while others are word-based. To truly track cognitive improvement over time, kids should follow the suggested programs, which include daily use and a particular set of games. 

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What's It Like?

Lumosity is a brain-training program that uses games and exercises to improve memory, attention, and processing skills. Based on extensive scientific and neurological studies, Lumosity helps people use their brains to the highest potential. The site offers games and activities that improve memory, attention, speed, flexibility, and problem-solving. Its cognitive training activities are designed for use by all ages, but it's probably going to be most helpful for older students who can stick with the program over time. Free access is limited to just a few games; users who pay get access to more than 30 games, plus additional resources.

It does require a commitment, though: Kids will learn only as long as they're dedicated to regular gameplay over time. They can focus on a certain discipline or play a personalized series of games offered as a daily program.

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Is It Good For Learning?

It's no wonder Lumosity is used by more than 25 million people. Its activities are comprehensive, and they make it simple to get started with a training program. Best of all, it's fun. The daily program lasts between 10 and 15 minutes, and it goes quickly when students are super-focused on the games (which all require some serious concentration). Kids will love watching their skills improve, and while the games feel almost as mindless as Candy Crush, they're anything but time wasters. Using Lumosity, students won't just be improving game scores; they'll also improve their brain function across the board, making things like homework and focusing in class a little easier.

With practice, students can improve speed, mental flexibility, and concentration. Once you start to see progress, it gets a little addictive, and kids will want to keep playing to beat their previous scores. Some games, like Lost in Migration, help with concentration and productivity over time. Others, like Familiar Faces, focus on memory. In this game, the user is a restaurant server who is challenged to remember customers' orders and names in order to get the best tip possible. Students also have the opportunity to explore the science behind the brain games. 

While they don't teach a specific subject, these mental workouts will keep the brain active and agile. Lumosity's games are colorful, well-designed, and challenging. If they stick with it, students will be excited to watch their skills improve over time.

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