Common Sense Review
Updated March 2016


Endless drills mostly stress speed, competition in cartoon game world
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Common Sense Rating 2
  • Students build their own avatars and earn points to unlock new items.
  • Usernames and simple passwords make login easy.
  • Track learning on the dashboard to see how kids compare to other students.
  • Select activities or let the computer select them.
  • Activities are all in racing format with multiple-choice answers.
Fast-paced adaptive quizzes keep kids from zoning out.
The site's focus on drills won't help kids develop a deeper understanding of the topics at hand.
Bottom Line
Though this could be a fun option for practice, teachers should look elsewhere for tools that both engage and support kids' higher-order thinking and learning.
Jason Shiroff
Common Sense Reviewer
Classroom teacher
Common Sense Rating 2
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 3

Students might find the fast-paced activities fun at first, but the quiz setup gets repetitive. Desktop and tablet versions sport flashy graphics to grab kids' attention, but they can be distracting and don't support meaningful learning.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 2

Content adapts automatically to each student's level. Gameplay is an endless series of timed, competitive quizzes. Without instructional support or much depth, it's hard for students to build conceptual understanding.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 2

Kids get instant feedback on answers, but they won't find any help with topics they struggle with. Some limited reports are available for teachers, but nothing shows progress on the CCSS or at which grade level students are working.

About our ratings and privacy evaluation.
How Can Teachers Use It?

In the classroom, Skoolbo could be used as a center activity or as a quick fluency drill. It might prove engaging to students in small doses so long as the teacher provides strong instructional support to promote deeper understanding. It isn't possible for teachers to assign activities to students or even select the math/literacy strand, so it may be difficult to match topics to those that have already been covered in class. Students can choose which topic to play; if teachers provide specific guidance and directions for which games kids should choose, they can have more control over which topics kids are quizzed on. Though Skoolbo may be a valid quiz-and-assessment option, these issues, along with the limitations of its pedagogical approach, could limit its usefulness as a teaching tool in most classrooms.

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What's It Like?

Skoolbo is a literacy and math quiz app that lets kids take quizzes and compete against other kid users around the world. When students log into Skoolbo for the first time, they complete a few assessments in literacy and math that are used to assess their ability and set up a series of activities to meet their individual needs. Skoolbo uses a proprietary "spiral learning algorithm" to adapt curriculum to each student regardless of age or grade level. Students can run through the activities presented by the website or pick their own. The curriculum includes literacy skills such as letter recognition, spelling, and vocabulary building. The math strand starts at counting to six and tops out at multiplying decimals. A new set of language games also introduce students to Spanish, Mandarin, and French. Skoolbo can be accessed through a desktop application (with 3-D graphics), the website (basic graphics), or tablet apps. Data is synced between devices and can be used offline.

Once it assesses students, Skoolbo presents a series of quizzes. Each quiz pits students against other avatars (presumably real students at other schools) in one-minute competitions. Students can also choose to play against their friends or teachers. All the questions are multiple-choice (often picking between two answers), and every activity follows the same competitive racing format. When students finish an activity, another one is queued up automatically, usually alternating between math and literacy skills. There are lots of rewards and points for playing games and performing well, including an augmented-reality feature that makes the avatars seem as though they're 3-D.

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Is It Good For Learning?

Skoolbo is excellent at quizzing and providing skill assessment but not as good for teaching and deeper learning. That makes Skoolbo's utility dependent upon what teachers are looking for. The game and racing setup can get complex and are entirely irrelevant to the learning material, even to the point of being distracting. Yet the engaging avatars, the high-quality graphics, the video-game feel, and a comprehensive reward system are likely to appeal to students. Teachers who want a fun way to quiz and assess students' math and ELA skills may find Skoolbo a good option.

However, it’s important to note that these kinds of drills aren't likely to promote actual learning beyond rote memorization. Without instructional tools or videos, or hints that guide, students are left to merely click multiple-choice answers. Students may tire of the format, as well as the lack of diverse, rigorous tasks. And for teachers, without better CCSS reporting or grade-level alignment, it may be difficult to figure out what kids are actually mastering.

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See how teachers are using Skoolbo