We had the opportunity to review the Digital Science Online: Elementary Edition (Grades K-5) and Digital Science Online: Secondary Edition (Grades 6-12) from Visual Learning Systems.
“Helping Teachers Teach and Students Learn, Visually” is the motto of Visual Learning Systems, an online science classroom of unit studies with more than 250 lessons for students in kindergarten through the twelfth grade.
The company is also a certified woman-owned small business with Stephanie Zak Jerome as President.
We also had access to the Digital Science Online: Secondary Edition (Grades 6-12) program that covered physical; earth; life; integrated, health; and biology sciences. Although we had access to all grade levels, Canyon, my second grader, spent his time in the elementary section.
Everything you need for conducting the lessons is online. The presentation of the material is very organized and thorough in content, so you do not have to know anything about science to use Visual Learning Systems. Depending on the age of your child, he may even be able to use the program independently, but knowing how to read is required. Younger children may need assistance from their parent/teacher.
The set-up is very easy and once the student logs in, the program is ready to go. There are three sciences of study – physical, earth and life – in the elementary level. You may choose any study and work through the topics in any order. The lessons work independently of each other.
I like the way each lesson is set up with the video; animations (available in some topics with excerpts from the video of particular points that were made); images (various pictures from the video) and the teacher’s guide.
Canyon was able to watch the video and refer to the animations if he wanted to see something in more detail without having to watch the video in its entirety.
The teacher’s guides made, for me, working through the lessons so easy. Canyon has wanted science in his school for a while, but we have not done that much this school year. One of the reasons is, because it takes so much time to put everything together; the lessons, lab supplies and figuring out what specific area to study and knowing what they should learn from the work. The teacher’s study guides has a pre-test, which we did together before he watched the video.
Covering a lesson looked like the following:
Monday: He completed the pre-test and watched the video.
Tuesday: He watched the video again and completed the video review. Rather than treat it as a test, I let Canyon watch segments of the video again to help him find the answers.
Wednesday: He completed the vocabulary sheet. That is where the animations (if available) section was beneficial for him. If he needed to be reminded about what something was, then the animation section assisted. Canyon also completed the exercise worksheets or experiments.
Thursday: We spent the day going orally over the writing assignment.
Friday: He took the post test.
At first, I was concerned about the amount of screen time involved with the program, but the videos are about 15 minutes long and most of the other work the student does is away from the computer. The videos are quality, which you may demo, and the lessons are pertinent and very comprehensive. They presentation is also in a manner that is understandable to the targeted grade level.
PRICE AND AVAILABILITY
Visual Learning Systems has special pricing for homeschoolers. The digital science online is $99 for either the elementary or secondary edition and there are no public performance rights. The product is also available on DVD or VHS and in Spanish.
You can read more reviews of this item by fellow crew members.