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Brightstorm

(i)

 

Learning(i)

Brief video lessons from pro teachers give teens a boost.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

For kids who have a hard time paying attention in class, these videos can help cement their understanding and give them confidence in their abilities.

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Language
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Consumerism
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Drinking, drugs, & smoking
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Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Brightstorm is a website that provides short videos that can complement and cement what your kid is learning in class. The lessons, which are offered in English, math, science, and test prep, are taught by seasoned teachers, who break the content into small pieces so kids don't get overwhelmed. If your kid is an extremely reluctant learner, these videos may not be the thing for them, as they seem geared toward kids who are already motivated but want to do better. Still, their quality is great, the subject matter is taught well, and Brightstorm could give some teens the boost they need. 

What kids can learn

Subjects

Language & Reading

  • reading
  • vocabulary
  • writing

Math

  • calculus
  • geometry
  • algebra

Science

  • biology
  • chemistry
  • physics

Social Studies

  • geography
  • government
  • history

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • collecting data
  • making conclusions
  • problem solving
  • thinking critically

Self-Direction

  • academic development
  • work to achieve goals
  • working efficiently

Emotional Development

  • persevering

Engagement, Approach, Support

Engagement

All the teachers are enthusiastic and easy to listen to, even if they don't all have the most engaging on-camera presence. Design is teen-friendly without being distracting.

Learning Approach

Each video is a short review of a topic given by an engaging teacher standing before a TV screen or whiteboard; if kids respond well to this kind of presentation, Brightstorm could help them truly grasp their lessons. 

Support

An FAQ list answers basic questions, and the site has a very active and engaging Facebook page with lots of giveaways.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Language & Reading

  • reading
  • vocabulary
  • writing

Math

  • calculus
  • geometry
  • algebra

Science

  • biology
  • chemistry
  • physics

Social Studies

  • geography
  • government
  • history

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • collecting data
  • making conclusions
  • problem solving
  • thinking critically

Self-Direction

  • academic development
  • work to achieve goals
  • working efficiently

Emotional Development

  • persevering

Kids can learn more on the subjects of their choice within the categories of English, math, science, or test prep. Within each subject, there are hundreds of lessons; kids can pick and choose what they'd like to review. Kids also will learn study and organization skills as they figure out how to fit Brightstorm videos into their homework schedules.

This Learning Rating review was written by Polly Conway

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What's it about?

BRIGHTSTORM is a website that offers short video lessons on various subjects within the categories of English, history, math, science, and test prep. Users can subscribe to one, two, or all 19 subjects; they can then watch all the video content on their chosen subject. Videos are broken down by topic, and some directly correspond to textbooks kids may be using in class. Each video is between five and 10 minutes long and covers a small piece of information related to a topic. For example, the section on Death of a Salesman has separate videos for exploring the play's theme, its meaning, and its symbolism. All these lessons are taught by educators with either master's degrees or PhDs. Additionally, newer sections feature advice on college counseling and study skills. All videos and content are available through Studystorm, the iOS and Android app created by Brightstorm's developers.

Is it any good?

QUALITY

Although the company is based in Palo Alto, its founders and many of the staff are Estonian, and language on the site can be a bit choppy. It's understandable, though the translations aren't always perfect. The videos are generally great, and there's a diverse team of teachers who try to connect gently with their virtual students. Some of the teachers are outstanding, but they're not all equally engaging -- you need a lot of personality to teach well over video. Also, note that most (if not all) of the math videos are available for free through Brightstorm's YouTube channel -- a helpful alternative for families who might balk at the steep subscription price.

Struggling students might feel that watching these videos is too much like being in class, only with a different teacher. The site's tone doesn't help much: Testimonial quotes like "You explained in 3 minutes what my teacher couldn't in 5 weeks!" may further undermine a child's confidence that he can be successful at school. If kids are having trouble connecting with their teacher, it's possible that they can access that same content more successfully through Brightstorm, if their textbook is supported. However, the site's steep price tag and its pretty-traditional approach make it unlikely to be a game-changer for most students. Motivated kids may love it; those more on the fence may leave feeling uninspired. 

Families can talk about...

  • Take advantage of the chance to learn with your kids -- watch one of the videos with them. Discuss what made sense and what didn't, and talk about how you can use the video's features -- like pausing and re-watching -- to make sense of what they're learning.

  • Let your kids know that everybody struggles sometimes and that there are many different ways to learn. Help them develop positive self- talk around school; what are they good at? How can people help when they struggle? Help your kids start to develop their own narrative of self-advocacy as they get older and take on more responsibility at school. 

Website details

Genre:Educational
Pricing structure:Free to Try, Paid

This review of Brightstorm was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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For kids who love getting ahead in class

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 17 years old Written byTheNewBandit November 10, 2015
LEARNING

Really? $180 a year for this BS?

That's right. $180 a year, and that's only if you order a year-long subscription. Any website that makes people pay that much to improve students' learning is bad and a scam in my book. I watched some of their free videos, and they aren't even great. Maybe on Khan Academy's level, except Khan Academy is free. I don't even like Khan Academy that much either. Don't waste your money on this trash. No one should pay this much to improve a student's learning ability. All these people care about is money and not the quality of their content. The "accolades" they advertise were probably scrupulously selected too.

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