Product Review of Zulama
Zulama is a program from Carnegie Learning that includes courses for computer science and coding. Students will appreciate the variety of learning activities and project-based opportunities in Zulama’s curriculum. While there are traditional activities like reading, short responses, and essays, there are also videos and multimedia projects woven throughout lessons. Even though the experience is self-guided, there are many lessons where learners work together, and other times where they share their work.
Both learners and educators access Zulama through a learning management system (LMS) called Passport. The teacher dashboard displays essential information that one would expect from an LMS, such as student usernames, courses the educator is currently teaching, and assignments that need grading. The grading and feedback can be done within Passport as well. There doesn’t seem to be an option to integrate with an LMS that educators may already be using.
The student dashboard shows learners what modules they’re enrolled in. Students select the module they’re working on and move through lessons and assignments or look at grades and feedback. As learners complete lessons, they type, write in a journal, and do coding activities. Some of the coding exercises use DevSpace, a coding platform embedded within Passport LMS.
Educators can use Zulama to teach an array of computer science skills and concepts. Lessons in Zulama are self-guided. The scope and sequence of these lessons are clear and appropriately build off of each other. Educators need to assign the appropriate modules, and learners then work (and play) at their pace. Zulama says it’s for K-12, though there didn’t appear to be any content suitable for the elementary grades. Teachers can customize lessons and modules if they find they need to.
Zulama provides enough guidance and support for learners that educators don’t need to have experience coding to teach the available courses. It would even be reasonable for educators to learn alongside their learners the first time they teach a class with Zulama. Some lessons use additional paid software such as GameMaker Studio 2. Schools considering purchasing Zulama should take this into account, as outside software may come with additional costs and system requirements.
Zulama will help educators provide quality computer science instruction to middle and high school learners. Lessons and modules (units) appropriately scaffold from one to the next. Teachers who are less comfortable with coding and computer science will feel confident that Zulama is giving learners what they need to be successful. Some units even involve ethics in computer science.
Teachers will find that along with computer science concepts, learners will also work on 21st century skills like creating, cooperating, digital citizenship, time management, project management, and more. Zulama doesn’t (nor is it meant) to replace the teacher. These learning experiences mean that educators may need to support learners in executive functioning and management more than in the content itself.
As learners progress, they have access to a variety of built-in assistive technology tools to help them succeed. These tools include text-to-speech and highlighting, as well as adding text, voice, or video notes.
Overall User Consensus About the App
Students will find many Zulama lessons appealing and appreciate having choices in projects.
Curriculum and Instruction
Computer science lessons and units build off of each other well. Teachers can pick and choose lessons if they choose.