NBC Learn

Website review by
Erin Brereton, Common Sense Media
NBC Learn Website Poster Image
Curated news clips help clarify science, history, and tech.

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Educational Value

Kids can learn about science, history, and other topics through news-based videos, photos, and articles. Many include detailed scientific-theory explanations. Kids can access transcripts or enact closed-captioning to practice reading skills as they watch videos. They can also compare how stories were covered in the 1980s and now to discuss how broadcast journalism's visual elements have changed. Adding more dynamic elements to photos and articles would help keep kids interested overall. NBC Learn presents information well and provides plenty of unique content to help adults explain several scientific concepts in an interesting way.

Positive Messages

Subtly encourages kids to examine, explore scientific elements in the world around them.

Violence & Scariness

Hockey, football videos discuss science behind sports-related collisions, but images are no worse than kids would see during a televised game.

Sexy Stuff

Users will see fairly frequent mentions for school-oriented K–12 subscriptions, which cost $999–$1,999.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that NBC Learn is a website that uses NBC News footage to introduce science, history, and technology lessons to kids. A subscription is required to view all materials on the video-centric site; subscriptions are primarily designed for schools and start at $999 a year, so your kids will probably encounter the site during class time. But they can access videos, photos, and articles in more than a dozen sections at home for free. The dense privacy policy details the kinds of information collected and shared.

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What's it about?

NBC LEARN is a website that features photos, articles, and more than 18,000 archived NBC News reports, dating back to the 1920s. The archive includes programs such as Meet the Press and NBC Nightly News. Without a subscription, you can access 14 free sections, which primarily center on science topics such as chemistry in everyday life. But others provide writing advice from authors, civil rights-era background information, and details about the Titanic. Content is well-organized; an icon denotes which items are videos, photos, or articles, and some items link to corresponding activities, which are identified by grade level.

Is it any good?

Kids should enjoy the NBC Learn sections on timely topics such as the science and technology behind the Winter Olympic Games, planetary changes, water sustainability, and social and historic concepts. Each section features short (usually fewer than six minutes), informative videos produced by NBC News; they're brief enough to hold kids' interest and elicit questions. NBC Learn also excels at tying concepts together to create interesting clips; sports-minded students will love videos such as "The Science of NBC Football." 

The site sections provide a decent overview of each topic, often offering historical background and scientific principle explanations. Videos from the '80s may look a little dated to kids, but they generally offer relevant information. The site's scanned articles aren't the most compelling element; many lack dynamic elements (and, in some cases, can be hard to read). But video clips, which comprise most of the site content, keep lessons lively by explaining concepts with commentary, imagery, and sounds. Many also include transcripts and closed-captioning, so kids can read along as they watch. Plus, there are color and size options available for captions, and all NBC-created videos feature Spanish captions, too. For kids who don't use NBC Learn at school, it would be nice to see a few more options for them to explore at home, as the free version is only a tiny sampling of the full content. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Discuss how news is covered. Can your child identify the who, what, when, where, and why elements in a newspaper article?

  • Ask your child to describe how articles from reputable news sources such as NBC differ from unsubstantiated articles on websites that don't list sources, references, or quotes. How can you tell if a website is a legitimate source of information?

  • Newspapers often feature editorials that express an opinion. Can your child identify some words or statements from sources interviewed on NBC Learn or another site that express opinion and don't necessarily focus on facts?

Website details

  • Subjects: Language & Reading: reading, using supporting evidence
    Science: engineering, chemistry, ecosystems and the environment
    Social Studies: events, history
  • Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: applying information, investigation, part-whole relationships
    Self-Direction: academic development, personal growth
  • Genre: Educational
  • Price: 30-day trial; contact for pricing
  • Pricing structure: Free to try
  • Last updated: November 11, 2020

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