Elevate is a free app for training your brain in the areas of “speaking, listening, reading, writing, processing speed, memory, math and pronunciation” (Gill, 23 January 2015, n.p.). You can do the challenges for free, with three challenges presented per day. The first day I played it I had challenges in Brevity (in writing), Processing Speed, and Memory. On the second day, I got three more challenges: Error Avoidance (in writing), Retention (listening) and Measuring (math). The Measuring challenge was essentially multiplying fractions. You can get the pro version by paying the $5/month fee, which unlocks all of the challenges for you (Gill, 23 January 2015). I chose this app just because it sounded like a fun challenge. I think it might be useful to a child of mine who is very bright but struggles with processing speed.
Elevate in Education
While the games in Elevate have a distinct academic flavor and address tasks such as reading, writing, spelling, and math, I don’t see Elevate as playing a role in formal education. Taking the example of math, the problems that Elevates present to you are determined by the app. So a classroom teacher, for example, could not set it up to drill particular math skills that she wanted her students to master. That being said, motivated students who wanted to learn informally on their own could certainly use Elevate.
Elevate in the Corporate World
Elevate is really geared toward adults who want to improve their cognition. Anand, Chapman, Rackley, and Zientz (2011) suggest that as people live longer lives, maintaining brain function is a significant challenge. They go on to say that we can improve brain fitness by exercising our brains with cognitive challenges that are neither too easy nor too hard (Anand et al., 2011). Harper (21 September 2016) cites a study that found that Elevate users scored 69% higher than non-users on a performance test. However, I would take that figure with a grain of salt. She does not cite the study and the link that she provides appears to go to a website owned by the makers of Elevate, but the link is broken.
Whether brain training games, such as those provided in the Elevate app, actually improve cognitive function seems to the subject of some controversy. Hurley (2016) indicates that brain training games aren’t going to turn you into “a Shakespeare or an Einstein” (n.p.), but that they can help adults delay the loss of cognitive abilities. Hurley (2016) indicates that exercises in processing speed are particularly effective. Elevate does contain specific exercises that have to do with processing speed. But all of the exercises give extra points for quick answers, so there’s an emphasis on thinking quickly throughout the challenges.
As with the world of education, I don’t see Elevate operating in a formal educational role within the corporate world. However, it’s fun and I think it’s a good way to exercise your brain that can be used informally by any adult. It may or may not help, but it won’t hurt.
Here’s how to get started with Elevate (at least how I did it on my iPhone):
- Search for and install Elevate – Brain Training from the app store (if you have a smart phone, you should know how to do this.
- You’ll first see the welcome screen. You can swipe to see different screens that talk about what Elevate does, or you can tap Skip to move to the next stage without viewing those screens.
- I swiped and eventually got to a screen with a message about telling the app how I’d like to improve. If you get to this screen, tap the Get Started button.
- The app asks you a series of questions. Respond as you wish.
- You will eventually get to a screen that asks you to take a short test. Tap the Begin button.
- This is an example of a question. Respond to the questions as you see fit.
- When you get to the end of the questions, tap the Get Results button.
- Your results are shown. Tap the Finish setting up account button.
- Tap the Next button.
- Select an option to indicate whether you want to receive daily reminders and then tap Next.
- You now need to create an account or sign in with Facebook. I signed in with Facebook.
- Specify your age.
- Tap the option to start a free trial of a pro membership or tap the option to continue with regular training. I chose to continue with regular training.
- Tap the Begin Training button.
- Tap the Next button.
- Tap the Next button to begin your first challenge.
- Read the instructions for the challenge and then tap the Play button.
- Proceed with the challenge. Your first challenge might be different than what I’ve shown here.
- When you complete the challenge, you are shown your score. Tap the screen to continue.
- Depending on your score, you might receive a level up. Share the news or tap the screen to continue.
- Your results might unlock another game. Tap the screen to continue.
- You are shown your score in graph format. If you take the same challenge multiple times, your new score is added to the graph.
- You are taken to the next challenge. When you have completed all challenges for the day, you are notified that you session has finished. Tap the screen to continue.
- You receive a report of your session. You can tap the Play more games button or close the screen by tapping the X in the upper left-hand corner.
- You are taken back to the main page. You can repeat the challenges you already did to try to improve your score.
When I accessed the app on the second day, I had three new challenges. I expect that I’ll keep getting new challenges every day until I have unlocked all of the challenges. I could unlock all the challenges at once by purchasing a pro membership, but I’m not going to do that.
Learn More about Elevate
I couldn’t find any scholarly information specifically about Elevate, or even any blogs or reviews that are particularly informative. However, the following sites give review of the Elevate app:
- Lumosity vs. Elevate: Battle of the brain-training apps, by Sarah Mitroff at CNET, available at https://www.cnet.com/news/lumosity-vs-elevate-brain-training-apps/
- Peak versus Elevate: iOS brain training apps go head-to-head, by Joe White, available at http://appadvice.com/appnn/2015/07/peak-vs-elevate-ios-brain-training-apps-go-head-to-head
- 3 Brain Training Apps that Really Work, by Elizabeth Harper, available at http://www.techlicious.com/guide/brain-training-apps-that-really-work/
Anand, R., Chapman, S. B., Rackley, A., & Zientz, J. (2011). Brain health fitness: Beyond retirement. Educational Gerontology, 37(6), 450-465.
Gill, R. (23 January 2015). App exercises your brain. Newsday, (Melville, NY).
Hurley, D. (2016). The for-real science of brain training. Scientific American Mind, 27(3), 58-65.