Brightstorm

Common Sense Media says

Brief video lessons from pro teachers give teens a boost.

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
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7
8
9
10
11
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13
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15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

Learning(i)

What parents need to know

Positive messages

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

Violence
Not applicable
Sex
Not applicable
Language
Not applicable
Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable
Privacy & safety

Kids over 13 can either create their own accounts with an email and password or, if they're using Brightstorm through their school, receive a code from their teacher to use the site. Information is protected, but the site does use cookies to monitor usage. Kids also can log in through Facebook.

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

  • writing
  • reading
  • vocabulary

Math

  • algebra
  • calculus
  • geometry

Science

  • biology
  • chemistry
  • physics

Social Studies

  • geography
  • government
  • history

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

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

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

  • writing
  • reading
  • vocabulary

Math

  • algebra
  • calculus
  • geometry

Science

  • biology
  • chemistry
  • physics

Social Studies

  • geography
  • government
  • history

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

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

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.

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, such as a chemistry teacher who's a woman of color. Another teacher, who has a gentle demeanor and a serious background in history, first engages kids by talking about his dog and then moves into learning strategies.

Kids who are having trouble at school or who are resistant to learning might feel that watching these videos is too much like being in class, only with a different teacher. There's also not much information about instructors' pedagogies, although all teachers have advanced degrees. If kids are suffering through a class with a horrible teacher at their schools, it's possible that they can get that same content through Brightstorm with a better teacher, if their textbook is supported. For kids who do well listening to lessons, this is helpful. For kids who do better by reading, some lesson's transcripts are available. Some of the teachers are outstanding, but they're not all equally engaging -- you need a lot of personality to teach well over video.

Families can talk about...

  • Take advantage of the chance to learn with your kids -- watch one of the videos with them. 

  • Let your kids know that everybody struggles sometimes and that there are many different ways to learn. 

Website details

Genre:Educational
Pricing structure:Free to Try, Paid

This review of Brightstorm was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

Find out more

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.

Find out more

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