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Common Sense Media Launches Learning Ratings Initiative for Digital Media

Posted Apr 10, 2012
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Common Sense Media, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to helping kids and families thrive in a world of media and technology, has launched a new learning ratings initiative that will evaluate the learning potential of websites, video games, and mobile apps. The ratings and reviews provide parents, teachers, teens, and kids with a guide to find the games, sites, and apps that can extend learning time, make learning fun, and build skills that the next generation will need to be successful in the 21st century, according to the announcement. The new initiative is made possible through a partnership with SCE, a foundation created by Susan Crown.

A 2011 poll from Common Sense Media found that while many parents recognize that digital media can provide learning benefits, they are skeptical about the products' educational claims. Common Sense Media's learning ratings address that problem by communicating the learning potential of a website, game, or app, along with offering suggestions on how to get the most out of the user experience. Reviewers analyze digital media products for core academic content like reading, math, and science, as well as deeper learning and social skills such as critical thinking, creativity, and collaboration. They also assess each product's overall learning potential, looking both at how engaging it is and how it's designed to support learning.

Visitors to and users of the Common Sense Media app will now see a new rating for learning at the top of each mobile app, video game, and website review. These icons appear in addition to Common Sense's standard rating for age appropriateness and quality. Under the tab "Learning Potential," users see summary reviews of what kids can learn, what the product is about, how kids can learn, and how parents can help. Along with the summaries, a section called "Subjects and Skills" lays out both the core subjects and the 21st-century skills that the product addresses. The entire review culminates in an overall learning rating, ranging from "Not Meant for Learning" to "Best for Learning." Common Sense will rate and review both products that were intentionally designed to be educational as well as conventional entertainment media.

Common Sense Media's learning ratings are based on comprehensive research and a rigorous evaluation framework. The framework was developed after conducting interviews with academic experts, a literature review of key 21st-century learning skills, and research with national samples of parents and teachers, who voiced a real need for learning ratings like these. The learning ratings initiative builds on Common Sense Media's successful media ratings and education programs. Through and content partners, Common Sense Media already provides ratings on more than 16,500 titles and offers education resources to more than 26,000 schools in all 50 states and 67 countries.

Learning ratings and reviews are available now for more than 150 mobile apps, games, and websites, with more than 800 expected by the end of 2012. New digital media products will now be reviewed for learning potential as they enter the market, while earlier digital media reviews will be updated on an ongoing basis. In addition, Common Sense's editors will be compiling special recommendation lists by age and subject or skill to help parents identify the products that best meet their kids' and teens' learning needs.

To see all learning reviews, visit To download video materials for broadcast, visit

Source: Common Sense Media,

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