Review by Marianne Rogowski, Common Sense Education | Updated April 2019

VJS Junior

Get kids excited about careers with videos and interactive animation

Subjects & skills
Subjects
N/A

Skills
  • Character & SEL
  • Critical Thinking
  • College & Career Prep
Grades 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.
K–5
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Pros: Easy-to-use interdisciplinary site features multiple accessibility features and diverse characters.

Cons: While it's rich with resources, the lessons largely keep students in the role of a passive learner.

Bottom Line: This video-heavy platform is best used as a supplementary activity to get students to explore their interests and related vocations.

Kids love talking about what they want to be when they grow up, but many kids dream of similar careers: firefighter, veterinarian, doctor, professional athlete, and other popular choices. VJS Junior will help you get kids thinking about their role in the future by encouraging them to explore their passions and develop their interests while they're young.

Use the interest survey to discover values, passions, and preferences. Once students have their results, assign personalized lessons to guide student learning about career opportunities they might never have even considered. Then, help students think about perseverance as they work through the animated lessons and accompanying puzzles and activities. Follow up with lots of sharing with peers as well as other classroom activities: Guide them through the possibilities that exist now and challenge their creative minds to think of careers that have yet to be invented. 

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VJS Junior is a career and interest exploration website that relies on animation, video, and interactive activities to introduce students to different career paths. A primary school precursor to VirtualJobShadow, this site has lessons and activities geared toward grades K-2 or 3-5. The student dashboard contains assignments in the form of interest surveys and job-specific information. Depending on what the teacher assigns, kids work through two main components: lessons and Career Central. Once students take an initial, emoji-based interest survey, they'll get a list of potential career fields that match their interests. From those, they work through a list of video lessons about jobs related to that field. Videos feature professionals and those they serve. For example, a video about being a guidance counselor features both the counselors and their students.

The platform is heavy on video, some of which may start to feel repetitive, and although there are interactive activities in between, some are simple vocabulary or matching activities, which may fail to inspire students. The built-in career journal might be a useful tool for kids who want to take notes about a certain job, but it, too, can quickly get repetitive. This will be especially true if teachers over-assign lessons to students without much context or discussion in between. For this tool to be truly effective, it's best used as a supplement to career exploration activities over time.

VJS Junior provides teachers a cool way to show students career paths they might not otherwise consider.  Plus, lesson activities on topics such as perseverance and collaboration give kids opportunities to think about these skills as separate from their everyday classroom experience. The interest survey, at 85 questions, could be pared down a bit, especially since there are likely questions that students won't know the answers to. For instance, responses to some questions, such as whether or not you like putting furniture together, might be skewed, since kids, especially younger students, may lack the breadth of experience to know whether or not they enjoy doing something.

The videos are engaging, informative, and short enough to keep most students' attention as long as they're not asked to complete multiple lessons in one sitting. However, the overall dependence on text and video may cause some to check out. And students who aren't particularly interested in a particular profession might become frustrated in having to complete an entire lesson on it. Simulation-type games would be a great addition in either case; they would offer a more engaging, hands-on experience that could really amp up kids' excitement, even if the career field itself seems uninteresting at first. 

Overall Rating

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

With a mix of animation, videos, and short interactive activities, it's a helpful introduction to career paths that may spark conversation and excitement. 

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

There's a ton of useful information and opportunities to learn about different careers, as long as teachers don't over-rely on the tool as a form of busywork.

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

Videos come with closed captioning and screen readers for students who need the support, but there's no way to move ahead for students who would prefer more of a challenge.


Common Sense Reviewer
Marianne Rogowski Media specialist/librarian

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