Engaging, adaptive practice for pre-K through 12th grade math and language arts

App of the Week
Formats: App for iOS and Android tablet devices

Website: www.ixl.com

What does it help with?

The IXL app helps students take their learning on the go to practice and excel wherever they are: school, home, or on the road. IXL’s app features interactive question types that heighten curiosity and put IXL’s carefully crafted, adaptive content at children’s fingertips.

Grade and age range?  pre-K-12

Is this core/supplemental/special needs/extracurricular/professional development or what?

IXL’s app is used as both as a core part of classroom curriculum as well as a supplemental extracurricular study. With 1 in 9 students already using it in the U.S., and over 25 billion questions answered around the world, IXL is one of the most widely used products in schools and homes for online, blended or flipped learning.

What subject, topic, what standards is it mapped to?

The IXL mobile app offers thousands of English language arts and math skills aligned with Common Core and state standards, on a flexible and easy-to-use platform, so teachers can easily find whatever they need to complement their in-class instruction, reinforce student knowledge, facilitate independent learning, or introduce students to new topics in an engaging way.

What lesson time does it use?

Educators and parents can practice as much or as little of the IXL skills as they choose, and with IXL’s SmartScore, they can be sure that each skill passed is truly mastered.

Pricing model?

IXL’s app is free to download, including ten free questions per subject per day, but with a subscription, learners have access to unlimited practice, and can earn awards and track their progress. For family accounts, subscriptions start at $9.95/month or $79/year.

Are there services around it?

IXL partners with schools and districts to successfully integrate into their existing curriculum. We offer schools personalized implementation models, custom training and professional development, and a dedicated account manager to help them get the most out of IXL. Parents can also stay up-to-date on their child’s progress with weekly updates sent to their inbox, and dive deeper with real-time analytics that track performance, improvement, and trouble spots. IXL also provides technical support via phone and email.

What makes IXL Learning unique?

IXL delivers an immersive learning experience for all students in all grades. Our team of teachers, researchers and technologists crafts unique high-quality content with unprecedented depth and breadth for each skill. Designing IXL with the student learning experience in mind, our content creators don’t take shortcuts, meaning students get unique questions that can’t be found anywhere else. Every IXL skill is created with a high degree of rigor using diverse, interactive question styles—multiple choice is used sparingly. Problems are designed to engage students in critical thinking and help to explore concepts further.

Furthermore, IXL strives to have the most adaptive learning content on the market. If there are multiple ways a skill can be taught we make sure students are exposed to all of them. We carefully scaffold content using strategic progressions within each skill to challenge students at just the right difficulty levels, resulting in a personalized and engaging learning process that helps students master concepts, from foundational to complex.

With IXL Analytics, IXL’s web-based data insights platform, teachers and parents get actionable data that makes it a breeze to track student progress both on mobile and web practice, pinpoint trouble spots, inform small group instruction and remediation, and much more. IXL also offers handwriting recognition, allowing students to write their answers out on the screen instead of inputting via digital keyboard.

Additionally, questions are algorithmically generated, ensuring that students almost never see the same question twice and always have something new to practice. IXL’s SmartScore also considers more variables than simply the percentage of correct answers--it takes into account the number of problems completed, the number of problems correct and incorrect, problem difficulty, and the consistency of correct answers in a row. When they reach a SmartScore of 90 or better, students and their teachers can be sure they truly understand the material. From subjects, to activities, and grades, IXL, with over 5,500 skills, is the most comprehensive classroom product that makes learning fun and engaging for kids on the go.

How is it designed for user interface, user experience? What instructional design principles are at work here?

When we designed the app, we tried to account for the varied ways individual students learn, as well as the varied ways our users prefer to interact with our content. For example, with the new handwriting recognition feature, students are given a whole new way to interact with our math skills: kids simply draw answers with their fingers and the app recognizes what they’ve written, from simple integers to more complex entries like fractions and algebraic expressions. This allows for students to learn in whichever way feels more natural or comfortable to them. It’s also very valuable to younger students who are just learning how to write as it helps them work on their fine motor skills while practicing math. Similarly, our audio feature supports students who are still developing their reading skills. The addition of a progress bar on the practice screen makes for a more engaging, game-like practice experience - it shows students how close they are to their next milestone, motivating them to keep practicing and striving for mastery. Virtual awards also motivate students, and help them celebrate their achievements. In terms of content, IXL is designed to provide “minds-on,” active learning, free of gimmicks and distractions. We give students multiple ways to learn about the same concept, use interactive question types to keep them engaged, and carefully scaffold our content to help learners understand complex concepts.

 

Teacher reviews:

Ryan Walker, 2nd and 3rd grade math teacher, Max Meadows, Virginia, U.S.A.:

“I love using IXL as a resource in my classroom and more importantly, my students love it! I have used it for about five to six years. The kids love keeping track of the skills they've mastered and the awards they've earned. The students love the different types of questions and it prepares them for state assessments. My students are extremely engaged in math practice through this program. They are excited to practice math at school and at home with this site and with this increased engagement comes more learning.”

 

Bridget Wilson, Algebra I teacher, Warrenton, Virginia, U.S.A.:

“The dynamic practice environment is helping my students’ understanding to become more solid than a textbook alone could have achieved. This platform is also able to meet each student where they are, at their level of mastery, and help them excel.”

 

Amanda Barr, high school Math I teacher New Bern, North Carolina, U.S.A.:

“I love everything about IXL: being able to measure individual student progress remotely, giving students early opportunities for success paired with later incentives to challenge themselves, having easy-to-search skills organized by level and topic, providing feedback to help students with incorrect answers, everything! My students’ grades have vastly improved with the ability to practice skills, get immediate feedback, and be evaluated on the accuracy of their answers in real time.”

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