Distance Learning Platform Spotlight: Moby Max

Distance Learning Platform Spotlight: Moby Max

In 2017, the online learning platform Moby Max was approved for distance learning in Minnesota Adult Basic Education programs. As with any new platform, people have questions. What is different about this platform? What does it offer? Why would I choose to use it? What are its drawbacks? Your DL support team has answers for these and other frequently asked questions. We’re glad you asked!

Moby Max Overview

Moby Max is an online learning platform for K-8 students, with content for all primary school subjects, including literacy, reading comprehension, spelling, math, science, and social studies. The curriculum is free to use, but the reporting tool needed for DL is only available with a subscription. Several subscription options are available, and none cost more than $200/year for an individual teacher. A free trial version with access to all tools is available for new teacher accounts, so you can “try before you buy.” Moby Max has been approved for use in MN ABE for time-on-task distance learning hours.

Why would a teacher or program choose to use Moby Max?

Moby Max offers beginning learners easy-to-use literacy content, such as sight words, phonics, and the alphabet, which are not available in most other approved DL platforms. It has been successfully used with adult English learners in even the lowest-level ESL classes. One feature of the software that is particularly helpful for beginning learners is an option for a simple image-based sign-on that does not require learners to memorize a username and password. Instead, they choose their name from the roster and then select their two chosen images as their password. This visual sign-on system is easy to learn to use and gets learners into their accounts quickly and with low levels of frustration.

Another reason that Moby Max has been successful in ABE programs is that it can be accessed with smartphone browsers, and does not require Flash player. Flash player issues are becoming more common with many DL platforms, as browsers move away from supporting Flash. Since Moby Max does not require Flash to run, you won’t have those issues with this platform. This also makes Moby Max accessible on a smartphone without installing an app.

While the interface is optimized for a larger screen (working very well on iPads or other tablets), it can be used on a phone if learners are willing to scroll a bit and be patient with drag-and-drop exercises. Some learners have tallied significant DL hours on their phone with Moby Max.

For teachers and administrators with a subscription, Moby Max has many excellent tools for customizing the content delivered to individual students and groups of students, and for reporting and monitoring progress. DL reports can be downloaded in a spreadsheet, making it easy to work with your data.

What are the drawbacks of Moby Max?

No platform or curriculum is perfect, and this one is no exception. There are some reasons why Moby Max might not be the right fit for you and your learners. First of all, Moby Max is designed for children. The texts and images in the curriculum are age-appropriate for the intended audience. Some adult learners may dislike studying on a product aimed at children. If your learners are sensitive to this issue, you might do better to choose something else.

Additionally, the curriculum is for K-8. It does not included any high-school level materials. For this reason, it would be inappropriate for GED or Adult Diploma preparation.

Finally, Moby Max is intended as supplementary, not primary, instruction. The curriculum assumes that students are reviewing or filling in gaps in learning, not using Moby Max as their first introduction to a topic. For that use, it would not be appropriate. So Moby Max would not be a good tool for distance-only instruction or for subjects that are completely new to a student. Use Moby Max to supplement in-class instruction, reinforce concepts, review or brush up, and fill in gaps.

If you have other questions about Moby Max, or about any approved Distance Learning platform, check the website mnabe-distancelearning.org or contact your DL support team at [email protected]. We’re here to help!

Susan Wetenkamp-Brandt, Educational Technology Manager Minnesota Literacy Council