The Great Courses Plus

App review by
Patricia Monticello Kievlan, Common Sense Media
The Great Courses Plus App Poster Image
Streaming videos feature engaging teachers, topics galore.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

Kids can use these lectures to dive more deeply into concepts they’ve covered in their classes at school further explore topics they love. Kids can boost their understanding of core elementary school topics, dive deeply into history and science, explore hobbies like gardening and yoga, and more. It's all passive learning with no interaction, so adults can help kids transfer their new knowlege offscreen.

Ease of Play

A little clunky to use on mobile; it's not always clear if navigating back will take you to the main menu or to a course's homepage. Downloaded lectures can only be watched; the audio-only option isn't available for downloaded videos, which may frustrate some users.

Violence
Sex
Language

Most videos are pretty G-rated, but it's worth watching them with your kids to ensure the subject matter is appropriate.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Great Courses Plus is a collection of several hundred video lectures from university professors from around the world.  It’s a subscription-based streaming service that works on mobile devices and also on a variety of TV-connected devices like Roku, AppleTV, Amazon Fire TV, and Chromecast. While most of the lectures are geared toward college students, there’s an increasing amount of content created exclusively for elementary, middle school, and high school students. Read the developer's privacy policy for details on how your (or your kids') information is collected, used, and shared and any choices you may have in the matter, and note that privacy policies and terms of service frequently change.

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What's it about?

THE GREAT COURSES PLUS is a digital streaming service that offers lecture series from college professors available for a monthly or annual subscription. Before TED talks or Netflix, there was The Great Courses, a video lecture series featuring professors from around the world on a range of subjects from ancient history to modern medicine and more; this new product brings that content online. Lectures are typically 30 to 45 minutes long, and you can save series to your watchlist and download individual lectures to your device for offline viewing. While the original Great Courses were geared mostly toward adults, the streaming offerings include more and more courses created specifically for elementary, middle school, and high school students.

Is it any good?

This subscription streaming service has been called the "Netflix for learning," and that’s not far off. the Great Courses Plus is a vast library of high-quality content that feels like you can learn anything, from elementary school math to history of classical music to cooking to sewing. Although the subscription price is steep, it’s comparable to the price of other streaming video services. The only downside may be the clunkiness of the app, especially on mobile devices: The navigation can feel a little inconsistent, and it’s disappointing that you can’t download audio-only versions of the lectures for offline listening. Overall, this is a terrific collection of engaging, expertly delivered talks on a wide range of subjects that can appeal to curious minds of all ages.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the pros and cons of learning from streaming videos like the ones in The Great Courses Plus. How is technology changing how people access information and build knowledge? What videos are the most interesting to you? Why?

  • Talk about learning by watching or listening to video lectures. How are these videos especially helpful? Talk about how you can use the video format to your advantage by changing its speed or replaying a section.

  • Many of these lectures are based on lecture-style college courses. Talk about how teachers can structure their courses differently, with components like lectures and discussion and, sometimes, tests. Ask your kids about how how they like to learn. Do they enjoy listening to lectures? What questions might they ask these instructors if they had the chance? How else might you teach the same information?

App details

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