Website review by Pamela Brittain, Common Sense Education | Updated September 2019

Multiplication Nation

Video training center for math facts feels flat, uninspired

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Grades
3–6 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
Math, Critical Thinking

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Pros: Systematic approach taken to introducing the facts; Mr. Alex tries so hard to be engaging.

Cons: Lessons rely on students to engage with all-too-similar videos; lack of closed-captioning or other languages.

Bottom Line: Videos try hard to teach multiplication facts in a systematic (and proven) way but sadly don't motivate students.

Teachers can use Multiplication Nation's videos to provide their students with additional practice learning and memorizing multiplication facts. By following the lessons exactly as presented, students build upon previously learned facts -- and the methods used are proven effective. But there's little to hook the students to interact with the lessons on their own beyond pauses in the videos that encourage "playing along," meaning teacher or parent involvement is required to ensure students are actively participating. This reliance on teacher involvement is counter to the message of Multiplication Nation, which states that they developed the program so that teachers and parents who didn't have time to sit with their kids and practice could have a resource to help them do just that.

There are a few printouts and some downloadable math rap songs, but the main content is focused on the videos. They may be fun to do as a whole-class activity, with teachers encouraging students to shout out answers along with the video, but it would be hard to entice individual students. 

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Multiplication Nation is a website for helping students master their times tables through a series of videos. The program presents multiplication facts in a logical way and breaks them down into manageable parts for students, and the teacher, Mr. Alex, tries hard to engage students in the lessons. The content feels like a training course for adults, and the methods used, while most likely effective in-person in a classroom, feel flat and uninspired in a video format. The videos don't let students skip ahead, and the introduction video states that students can't jump around in the lessons; in truth, the platform lets students pick whatever videos they want (they're just not supposed to). There's no closed-captioning and there are no videos available in any language other than English. 

Mr. Alex, in both the promo videos and in some of the training videos themselves, comes across as more infomercial actor than educator. You can tell he's passionate about helping kids but he's also trying to sell his product. Mr. Alex is a well-respected educator (winning multiple teaching awards) and seems dynamic in his classroom teaching, but Multiplication Nation feels more like a commercial product than an educational resource.

Multiplication Nation videos all progress at the same pace with lots of pauses for students to "play along," but there's no motivation or engagement with the videos to ensure this. Mr. Alex does his best to be exciting (bad jokes and all), and it seems like if he was physically in your classroom, the students would be loving it. But in a video format, it seems slow, prescribed, and uninteresting for students to pursue on their own.

If used in very small bursts (maybe a video a day) with parent or teacher oversight, Multiplication Nation could be an effective tool to help students learn and memorize their times tables. The methodology and sequence used for the videos are proven effective for building confidence in students memorizing multiplication facts, but it's hard to encourage students to use it on their own, which is counter to the program's mission.

 

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?

Mr. Alex tries very hard to motivate students with worthwhile content, but the static video format leaves a lot to be desired in getting students to actively participate.

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?

Proven methods of teaching students to memorize multiplication facts are used, but students take a passive role in learning unless prompted by someone in the room with them.

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?

The skills learned are valuable in all math classes, but feedback and additional materials provided are limited; the content relies almost solely on the videos.


Common Sense reviewer
Pamela Brittain Researcher

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