Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Web-based learning software review

I just signed up one of my boys for Time4Learning.com. I'm interested in the Language Arts program, but I'm not sure this is the right fit. He has given the thumbs up on it (based on 15 minutes usage), and it seems to be a good fit for him but I am still unsure. They give a 14-day trial period, and we'll probably use about half that before I decide for sure.

Pros and cons:

Pro: This program offers Language Arts, Math, Social Studies, and Science. It also keeps track of the child's progress, alleviating the need for the parent to keep track of it.

Pro: It is colorful and fun looking, appealing to kids, hopefully attracting them to do their work without argument. :-)

Pro: You have access to all grades at once so if your child moves quickly or if you picked the wrong level, you can change the level without further cost.

Pro: We can easily take schoolwork with us on vacation as long as we have internet access. Built in con: We'll need to take a wireless router with us=more expense.

Pro: My son likes it.

Con: I think it is an expensive program. You pay a monthly fee to access the web-based program rather than buying it outright. The first child is $20 a month, and additional children are $16 apiece each month. You also have to buy into the whole thing rather than picking just one subject. Compare that to Alpha and Omega Publications, where you pay just $62 for each subject area/grade or $300 for all five subjects (Language Arts, Social Studies, Science, Math, and Bible).

Con: I have already selected Teaching Textbooks for our Math studies and am very happy with it. Another pricey program (although less if you don't opt to buy the workbooks, which are unnecessary IMO in the elementary grades.) Mitigates the benefit of Time4Learning. Since I'm not looking to replace our history studies, that leaves Science, but I am looking at using Janice VanCleave's books for that---so that's a lot of $$$ for just one subject.

Con: Less face-to-face time and more competition for the computer. I'm not sure that is a good thing. Scratch that. I don't think that is a good thing. It also means we need to buy more seats on NetNanny to cover multiple computers so I can relax about accidental exposure to things better done without (and eliminate the competition for one computer.) How's that for a never-ending sentence?

Decision: I'm going to drop the subscription. The interface is friendly, but I need to have more face time with my kids since that's a big reason I homeschool. Cost is also a big issue right now, and this program doesn't fit our budgetary concerns.

No comments: