Here’s How Online Games Like Prodigy Are Revolutionizing Education

By David NaarLast Updated Jan 20, 2021 6:28:22 PM ET
Prodigy Crop
Photo Courtesy: Prodigy

If you've got an elementary-school-aged child who would rather play video games than do their math homework, you can rest assured that you're not alone. And, hey, who can blame them? Let's be honest, most adults would probably opt for the video game too if they had to choose. Enter: Prodigy — a massively multiplayer online game (MMO) that allows kids to combine the fun of video games with the necessity of practicing their math skills. Want to know why kids, parents and teachers alike are all raving about this revolutionary new approach to education? We’ll show you how it all adds up.

How Does Prodigy Work?

Prodigy set out with a simple mission — "to help every student in the world love learning" — and, with that goal in mind, the creatives behind the game created a real shift. But, despite the game’s now revolutionary status, registering to play is actually quite a cinch.

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Photo Courtesy: Masterful Games/Youtube

To sign up, simply head over to the Prodigy website, where you'll be able to create a free account. While there are options for paid premium memberships and one-on-one tutoring, one of the best things about Prodigy is that you can still get all of its core benefits from the free-to-play version. Once your student’s all logged in, they’ll design a cartoon-style wizard avatar and give them a name.

Once their wizard is good to go, they’ll be dropped into a colorful world filled with foes — other wizards and fantastic creatures. In order to defeat these enemies, players must cast "spells" by providing the correct answers to math problems. But the game isn’t all math and mayhem either. Prodigy knows how to keep its players enthralled: Throughout the game, students can adopt virtual pets and upgrade their character’s equipment, like any good MMORPG worth its mythril.

Who Benefits From the Use of Prodigy?

Among Prodigy’s biggest wins is that it's not just great for kids, but a win for teachers and parents too. After all, it encourages practice — without a single worksheet or book involved. As the player progresses, Prodigy grades each answer and provides helpful hints — like formulas and the like — and feedback. Without a doubt, this feature makes the game quite the helpful tool for parents who might struggle to recall old math problem-solving skills.

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Photo Courtesy: Ariel Skelley/Getty Images

Prodigy comes in a few different levels, catering to students from first through eighth grade, but it seems to appeal most to younger students. The colorful characters and graphics are all very kid-friendly, with designs reminiscent of those found in popular video games and children’s TV shows. As an added bonus, Prodigy is also great for ESL (English as a second language) students as well as students who might be reading at a lower level; it let’s them focus on the math problems, without difficult text interfering with their experience.

What Are the Game’s Classroom Applications?

Over 1.5 million teachers are already using Prodigy to help engage their students. And once you get into the game, it’s easy to see why. In fact, Prodigy was created by teachers — for teachers — and aligns with various curriculums from around the world. To make things easier, teachers can create their own classroom accounts and even add students with Google Classroom or Clever.

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Photo Courtesy: Skynesher/Getty Images

If teachers want to take things to the next level, they can assign specific skills for their students to practice, either individually or in groups. With modes suited to test prep and the ability for teachers to track students’ progress and identify problem areas, Prodigy really is a revelation. Additionally, Prodigy makes it easy to share feedback and connect with parents, all of which helps students to continue playing and practicing at home.

Is Prodigy Safe?

With the growing popularity of online multiplayer games, it's definitely wise to look into the safety of any internet-based game your child may be interested in playing. Rest assured that Prodigy has been certified as safe for kids, with Tutorfair naming the game to its "best educational apps and learning tools" list.

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Photo Courtesy: FG Trade/Getty Images

While Prodigy is designed to allow teachers and parents to track their child's progress, it doesn't allow players any social networking abilities. All of the characters your child interacts with in the game are non-playable characters (NPCs), which means they’re scripted parts of the game. If you’re still feeling a bit nervous, you can create a free parent account, which allows you to track your student’s progress and set goals and rewards for milestones.

Are There Other Virtual Learning Games Similar to Prodigy?

Once you see how much fun your kids have with Prodigy, you may find yourself impressed by how beneficial it can be to turn learning into a fun game. Fortunately, there are countless other online-based games that can help your children excel in a variety of subjects.

Photo Courtesy: Arcademics/Google Play

Here are some of our favorites:

  • Mr. Nussbaum: Developed by a public school teacher, Mr. Nussbaum hosts over 3,500 content pages organized by subject and grade level. The free site allows kids to play games that will help them sharpen their skills in geology, history, science and more.
  • Poptropica: Poptropica was developed under the creative direction of Diary of a Wimpy Kid's Jeff Kinney. Similar to Prodigy, the game allows kids to create a character and explore a virtual world full of games, quests and stories — many of which are based in history.
  • FunBrain: FunBrain is another great site developed for children. Preschoolers and eighth graders alike will be able to play a variety of games that revolve around math and reading skills, and, as an added bonus, the site offers up free access to a ton of popular books and comics.
  • Arcademics: Arcademics offers first- through sixth-grade students the chance to play arcade-style educational games online. The games you'll find on the free site can be played in single and multiplayer modes and while there’s no actual need to make an account, doing so will help you manage who your child is playing against. Like Prodigy, Arcademics allows teachers to track students’ progress.
  • National Geographic Kids: Last but not least, be sure to check out the National Geographic Kids site, which hosts plenty of fun, free-to-play games, quizzes, games and puzzles. From science and history to geography and reading, Nat Geo’s site covers most foundational subjects.