Apple promotes personalized learning with new brain training app

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Apple’s been big on education under Tim Cook’s leadership — whether that be pushing for iPads in schools around the world, or teaching people to code in Apple Stores.

Apple’s latest Editors’ Choice in the App Store continues this educational theme, with a brain-training app called Elevate designed to help improve articulation, reading and listening focus, writing abilities, and information-processing speed.

Based on how you specify your goals, the app creates a personalized training program with various challenges to be completed by playing a series of well-designed mini-games. According to its developer, Elevate’s games are designed in collaboration with experts in neuroscience and cognitive learning.

Elevate’s features include:

  • Games for critical skills like focus, processing, precision, and comprehension
  • Detailed performance tracking
  • Personalized daily workouts that include the skills you need most
  • Adaptive difficulty progression to ensure that your experience is challenging
  • Workout calendar to help track your streaks and stay motivated

Apple promotes personalized learning with new brain training app

While the free app gives you access to three challenges per day, unlimited games (and weekly personalized learning content) can be enjoyed by upgrading to Elevate Pro for $9.99 per month, or $59.99 per year.

We guess it depends on how important brain-training is to you!

Elevate can be downloaded from the App Store, optimized for all iOS devices running iOS 7.0 and above.

  • Michael Smith

    I love the concept of these brain training apps, but $10 a month for the privilege.. really?

    Maybe I am missing the value proposition here but what is it exactly they are providing for that subscription fee? I guess taken from a marketing perspective, the people that need it the most likely stupid enough to buy into it.

    • http://avandamiri.com Avand Amiri

      It’s not really about the privilege; it’s a your choice. You can try the games for yourself and see if they’re effective for you. As a beta tester, I’ve experienced the efficacy of these games. Elevate has compiled a huge amount of game content that progresses as you play. It’s a collection of exercises that gives you a little practice each day at the things everyone struggles with. That’s what you’re paying for. You definitely are missing the value proposition — try it out for a week and then let’s talk.

  • g33kboi

    This looks similar to Lumosity. I like that you can play a couple of games every day for free without having to pay for a subscription. Lumosity locks you out too quickly to really tell if it’s worth paying for.

    It’s worth mentioning that there are many articles about how the “science” behind Lumosity is bunk so do your due diligence before buying into one of these “train your brain” systems.

    • San Diego Dave

      Yeah, I almost signed up for Lumosity last year, but the science is totally inconclusive. What tipped the scales for me was when some scientists pointed out that the positive research could easily be explained as people simply getting better and better at the games, rather than actually becoming smarter. It’s definitely not worth $120 or even $60 per year.

      • http://avandamiri.com Avand Amiri

        There’s definitely some truth to getting better at the games vs. the actual subject matter. I’ve found in playing Elevate daily that I’m passing a level simply because I’ve already played that variant. I’m not sure that’s such a bad thing. When the time comes to know the difference between “confidant” and “confident” it will be second nature because of the repetition.

      • San Diego Dave

        Well, yeah, but at that point you’re just memorizing vocab. It’s essentially flashcards. These games are sold on the premise of literally increasing cognitive power and boosting IQ.

      • http://avandamiri.com Avand Amiri

        That’s just one example. Other games flex other skills too. Collectively, with repetition, even wrought memorization increases your brain power.

      • San Diego Dave

        That’s exactly the point in question. There’s no evidence that these games “increase brain power.”

        Also, the specific point made by the researchers (that I mentioned above) was that getting better and better at one game didn’t seem to transfer to any other games. As soon as you switch to a new game, you basically start from scratch in terms of skill/speed/etc. That strongly suggests that simply improving in a game does not translate into any broader increases in cognitive ability.

      • http://avandamiri.com Avand Amiri

        I’m not sure I follow. All the games get progressively harder. Have you tried the app?

      • San Diego Dave

        No I’m specifically talking about Lumosity, which I have tried. The point of the research is that the perception of increased “cognitive ability” is non-transferable between different games. If you play one type of puzzle/matching/memory game, for example, and get better and better, and then play a different game in the same memory/matching category, there is no transference of skill. You don’t start out any better at game #2 than you did when you started game #1, which suggests that there is no broader increase in brain power. And a further implication would be that getting better at these games will not translate into any new/higher abilities at real world problem solving. Bottom line, these games are oversold (and thus, in my opinion, overpriced).

      • http://avandamiri.com Avand Amiri

        I see what you’re saying. I disagree though. We’re constantly carrying over life lessons from one area of our life to another. And the more frequently you practice making these cognitive connections, the more powerful your brain will be! But, hey, I’m not a neuroscientist. I just think you should try the game and determine for yourself if it works or not.

        As for the price, if if works for you and you buy a year, it’s the same price as a beer each month, which buys you a buzz and 20 minutes of clever conversation with a stranger. Even if Elevate doesn’t increase your cognitive ability, you’ll walk away with hard skills, like a stronger vocabulary. Even a decent vocabulary program isn’t that cheap.

      • San Diego Dave

        Haha. As a craft beer enthusiast, I spend way more than $5/month on beer, and I can’t afford to cut into that budget!

        Also, I see that you’re a developer from SF. You don’t happen to be involved with this app, by any chance? You seem to be pushing it pretty hard. ;-)

      • http://avandamiri.com Avand Amiri

        Good sleuthing! I am not involved in the development of the app. I know the folks that built it and like their products. They’re the same guys that built the few dozen MindSnacks language, SAT, and math learning games. They’ve been working on learning via mobile games for almost four years and have some experience with it. I guess I’m not unbiased but I would call myself a big fan. :-)

    • http://avandamiri.com Avand Amiri

      Elevate has definitely done research around the efficacy of these games and as a beta tester I can attest to it as well. However, whether or not it works for you is largely subjective. The development of any skill is a matter of consistent practice and that’s the what Elevate really provides: a short set of a daily exercises for your mind. Trying Elevate doesn’t cost you a thing so “due diligence” seems a bit heavy handed. Download the app, try it for a week, and see for yourself.

About the author

Luke DormehlLuke Dormehl is a UK-based journalist and author, with a background working in documentary film for Channel 4 and the BBC. He is the author of The Formula: How Algorithms Solve All Our Problems, And Create More and The Apple Revolution, both published by Penguin/Random House. His tech writing has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, Techmeme, and other publications. He'd like you a lot if you followed him on Twitter.

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