Our Family

Our Family

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Schoolhouse Crew Review: Visual Learning Systems

Visual Learning Systems Review
For the last several weeks we have had an opportunity to use and review the following two product from Visual Learning Systems:
Digital Science Online: Elementary Edition (Grade K-5)
Digital Science Online: Secondary Edition (Grades 6-12)
Visual Learning Systems Review

Digital Science Online is a digital subscription program that you can access 24/7 on any computer. The elementary level includes both elementary (3-5)  and primary (K-2).  Elementary has three subcategories: physical, life, and earth science.  Primary includes: physical, life, earth, and health. The secondary level is for middle and high school students and includes: physical, earth, life, integrated, health, and biology.  Within each subcategory is a wide selection of topics.  For instance under elementary physical science there are 21 different topics such as: Heat and Energy, What is Sound?, Forming Bonds, Heat in Motion, and many more.  You can view all of the elementary topic here and the secondary topics here  

For each topic there is a video to view.  Length of the videos vary depending on the topic.  The videos in the elementary levels are around 10-15 minutes each and the middle/high school level videos are around 20-25 minutes long.  Each video is narrated and uses real life experiences, images, and animations. The videos all include a review at the end.  To go along with each video there are Teacher's Guides that include an introduction to the video, the learning objectives, video script, and student activities. The student activities include before video and after video worksheets, vocabulary sheets, video review, worksheets based on the video, and hands on labs.
Visual Learning Systems has developed special pricing for homeschoolers.

There is a tutorial and Demo to view.

For review purposes, we were given access to both the elementary and secondary levels, which for a family like mine with so many different age levels was wonderful!  (note that if you were to purchase you would have to buy both level separately.)  Many of the topics are covered at the different levels so I could have my K-2 children watch the primary video on What Are Magnets? my elementary children watch Magnets and Electromagnetism, and my middle schooler watch Magnetism.  I could also print out the age appropriate worksheets for each child and do the corresponding hands on labs.  

We used Digital Science online to supplement our current science curriculum.  I also used it with my K to supplement her K curriculum, and I even picked a few random topics that I knew would be of interest to the younger children to give them something to do while I was working with the older boys on their school work a few times.  

When we first found out about this review, I thought it was only videos.  I was very pleasantly surprised to find that it was so much more!  I thought the worksheets were great supplements to the videos and were very age appropriate.
Christian and Anthony doing one of their worksheets

Nick's worksheets on calculating electric charge

Our favorite part was the hands on activities.

static electricity experiment

getting ready to build an atom model

atom model

making a compass

The videos themselves were very well done.  The lengths were perfect for the intended age range.  They were interesting and had great images and narration.  I liked the built in review and questions at the end of the video.  Christian (7) really wanted the computer to hear him when he gave the answers to the video review questions.  I thought that was pretty cute.  There is a wide variety of topics to choose from and you can choose how much or little to do in each section and how quickly you want to move through the material.  We took a week on each topic working 3 days of the week, but you could stretch it out to two or shorten if you wish.  I really think the visual aspect of watching the videos added something to our study of science that we have been lacking.

One thing that I wanted to mention is that Visual Learning Systems does teach from an evolutionary point of view.  I was aware of this ahead of time and mostly steered away from topics that I knew for sure would mention evolution and previewed ahead of time a few of the videos that I wasn't sure if they would or not.  Also, when you log into the site, it automatically starts playing a video.  I wish the videos would not start until you pressed play rather than being automatic.  It would also be nice if instead of the topics being listed alphabetically under each category that they were arranged with topics that go together like they are listed in the catalog.  There are no hands on labs at the primary level.  For us I just had my younger children do the same activities as the older ones, but it would be nice if some activities were added to the primary level too.

To see what my Crew Mates had to say, click on the banner below.
Visual Learning Systems Review
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