Review by Erin Brereton, Common Sense Education | Updated November 2015

NBC Learn

Video-centric resource good for discussion starters and research

Subjects & skills
  • English Language Arts
  • Science
  • Social Studies

  • Critical Thinking
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
Great for:
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (1 Review)

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Pros: Videos offer a solid overview of various topics; teachers can find and organize items by grade level as well as some standards.

Cons: Standards correlations and transcripts aren't listed for all videos; a subscription is required to access all content.

Bottom Line: There are a variety of worthwhile classroom applications for this interesting video content resource.

While showing the videos (and other resources) to your whole class is a great option, teachers can also encourage students to explore the site's 14 free sections, with or without a subscription. Students can conduct project-related research or extend their knowledge about subjects covered in class. A few items also link to grade level-based activities, such as a football video on Newton's First Law of Motion, which includes inertia demonstration instructions. Younger students and ELLs may benefit from using the site's closed-captioning option to aid in comprehension.

Teachers can also use the site as an example of how broadcast journalism has changed over the decades. Comparing some of the older clips to more recent reports will illustrate how news reporting has evolved along with the technology that supports it. Kids will likely find it interesting how infographics, the use of photo and video, and other visual elements have changed the media.

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NBC Learn's subscription-based site for schools includes a catalog of more than 18,000 NBC News reports, dating back to the 1920s. Among other sources, content has been culled from programs teachers may find familiar, like Meet the Press and NBC Nightly News. There are also photos and articles for students to check out. The site is divided into sections on a variety of topics ranging from health, finance, and current events to more academic subjects like science, math, and language arts. Some sections have up to 400 videos, all listed by topic, though some clips are featured in more than one section. 

The site's CueCard video player has options to help organize content. Teachers can print out general video information, and they can also save videos to a playlist, adding notes as well as links to other resources. An additional section has related clips from more than a dozen universities. Videos are aligned with state and national standards, and teachers can search for videos by state standard, Common Core State Standard, or Next Generation Science Standard. 

Having access to the past century's news content could be a great resource to teachers and students, and NBC Learn serves as a solid place to start this search. Teachers can locate relevant content fairly quickly, and the playlist feature is a very helpful way to support students' exploration and discovery. Using NBC Learn can be a great way to scaffold lessons with visual content, and the free sections can be used for independent student research. 

It's important to know that finding videos pertaining to specific topics may not be easy. Even though all videos have transcripts, there can be some delay (up to 4 to 6 weeks) before transcripts appear for current events videos. Also, when searching by standard, the video selection isn't always robust; There's technically alignment to every CCSS ELA standard and all of the NGSS standards, but some videos' alignment may be more robust that others'. Full transcripts and flexible caption options (in both English and Spanish!) are especially helpful additions. Overall, this is a neat tool for teacher-led instruction or for self-directed student exploration.

Overall Rating

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

Videos comprise most of the content. The newer clips have better production value, which may pique kids' interest; older videos tend to be less dynamic.

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

There are hundreds of NBC news videos, as well as photos and articles on topics ranging from current events to math. Teachers can search by general subject and standard, but your mileage may vary with the robustness of some standards alignments.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

Case studies, testimonials, and online events give ideas for classroom use. English is the default language, but videos feature closed captioning in English and Spanish, and the site is compatible with screen-reading software.

Teacher Reviews

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Featured review by
Michael G. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Bayshore Middle School
Leonardo, United States
NBC Helps to Learn
It is a great tool when used wisely. Teachers looking for an easy fit for standards need to watch the videos and apply where necessary. It is a motivating tool for students, particular those not fond of reading, to find useful and applicable information.
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