Common Sense Review
Updated August 2012

Virtual Nerd

Flip a classroom with these quality video math tutorials
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Common Sense Rating 4
  • The homepage provides easy access to browsing content, setting up your online classroom, tracking student progress, or help options.
  • Virtual Nerd School Edition provides access to practice problems aligned to tutorials.
  • Teachers can build playlists for their students with tutorials, assessment questions, YouTube videos, and Prezis they build themselves.
  • Each tutorial provides a video of a teacher lecturing on a topic, a diagram, and step-by-step notes.
  • Teachers and administrators can view activity reports including usage mapped against the standards and individual student performance.
Pros
Tutorials are high-quality and give kids clear opportunities to practice what they learn.
Cons
Learning can be repetitive, and there could be a better variety of questions.
Bottom Line
High-quality math and physics tutorials are a great classroom supplement, plus they're aligned to Common Core standards.
Emily Pohlonski
Common Sense Reviewer
Classroom teacher
Common Sense Rating 4
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 3

Though clear and visually appealing, the tutorials are no more engaging than any other straightforward lecture. Kids may have to be extra motivated to pursue Virtual Nerd study.

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

Through watching these lecture videos at home, kids can have a different experience during class time, allowing for more individualized teacher attention, group work, and communication.

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

Subscribers can view content in three ways -- video, step-by-step notes, and a diagram -- which is very helpful to different learning styles. Bummer: It's only available in English.

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

Teachers looking to build a "flipped classroom" (using technology to allow kids to learn at home, then come to class for interactive work) will love that clear tutorials are already created. Students can watch the straightforward instruction and take notes at home, saving class time to focus on applying the concepts and working on cooperative projects. You can input students into the Virtual Nerd account roster and provide them an access code to log in. They can then build playlists with tutorials, multiple-choice practice problems, and assessments. To build an assessment, you can choose from an unfortunately limited group of questions for each topic, some of which are the same as the practice problems.

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What's It Like?

Virtual Nerd is a website featuring tutorials to supplement learning in middle and high school math and physics classes. Hundreds of tutorials are available for sixth- through eighth-grade math, Pre-Algebra, Algebra 1, Algebra 2, Geometry, and Introductory Physics. Each tutorial provides a video of a teacher lecturing on a topic and writing on a whiteboard. At the same time, a diagram and step-by-step notes appear to the right.

Standout tutorials and questions:

"How do you find the probability of a simple event?" -– Kids get a video, a diagram, and step-by-step directions showing them how to find the probability of getting a green or blue marble from a bag of marbles.

"Curtains at Jordan’s" -– A multiple-choice problem where kids use a tree diagram to determine all the possible combinations of curtains at the store.

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Is It Good For Learning?

High school students should find a lot to work with here. ACT and SAT math tutorials provide opportunities for kids to review key concepts in preparation for these nerve-wracking, high-stakes tests. Tutorials are separated by each subject and organized by topic or according to several popular textbooks, which could work well if kids are already familiar with a particular textbook series. Good news: Concepts are aligned to a broad range of Common Core Math Standards. Physics concepts are appropriate for kids in a standard high school physics class or for those reviewing basic physics concepts in preparation for AP or IB Physics. Virtual Nerd’s "Dynamic Whiteboard" platform is distinctive because it allows kids to view instruction in three ways simultaneously.

A few nits to pick: It would be nice if Virtual Nerd had a larger pool of questions; sometimes they repeat. Adding more resources for kids to apply and extend their learning would also strengthen the site's reach.

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