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Parents' Choice Awards : Software : Online Software
DreamBox Learning Math (Grades K-5)

DreamBox Learning Math (Grades K-5)

Fall 2012 Online Software
Ages: 5 - 11 yrs.
Download Price: $12.95
Review:

DreamBox Learning Math (K-5) is a series of focused math activities presented as games with colorful, playful graphics and personable animated characters, delivered as a Flash application through your web browser.

The activities are scaffolded to match your child's grade level and capability, and are presented in an engaging way that may help some math-phobic kids feel comfortable exploring math concepts. Frequent tutorials and opportunities to reduce the difficulty allow the learner to advance at their own pace, and the variety of activities will help maintain interest.

Also driving interest is the notable addition of gamification elements to the learning. As your child advances through the lessons, they earn coins which can be exchanged for personalizations of the environment, and they earn badges to demonstrate their success in the different areas of learning. In addition, the individual lessons are presented as game-like activities, and tutorials are presented in a manner similar to earning achievements in mainstream games (i.e., instead of just telling the child what each button in an interface does, it just drops them into the game, and challenges them to earn all the tutorial's achievements, so that when they use and discover what an interface control does, they earn that achievement). It's a clever way to make learning fun.

However, the gamification of the activities is often hampered by a strict, linear path through the game. If your child understands the concept, going through hand-holding activities that are unskippable several more times is less like fun, and more like homework. And despite the tutorials in places, some of the "games" were not as well-explained as others, or had confusing elements that made them harder than they needed to be for the age level. Several games were slow, and seemed to be struggling to respond to input. And at one point, we were given a page saying that DreamBox could not be played right now because it required a connection to the server, even though our internet connection was working and other sites were loading fine. Disappointment lead to frustration. If you can work through the issues, there's some good content well worth looking at.

Overall, DreamBox is a good idea, and has a lot of things going for it. Gamification of learning can certainly help with math anxiety and low confidence, and DreamBox has done a good job coming up with activities and game structures to teach. DreamBox may not change learning, but it clearly changes access to learning. And that's worth exploring. The free trial is a just few clicks away.

Parents' Choice   ©2012 Parents' Choice

Look for this product at:
DreamBox Learning Inc.
http://www.dreambox.com

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