Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Zane Education

I don't know if you know this or not, but I was homeschooled. From 5th grade all the way through high school, home was where I did most of my learning. And let me tell you, things have changed so much since then for homeschoolers, not just with the kinds of curriculum available, but even the ways that we learn has changed. The internet has made so many different types of education become readily available for home educators. One of these is Zane Education.

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What It Is:

Zane Education is an online service of online educational videos for all ages. What makes Zane unique from other online video courses is that every video in their extensive library is subtitled, or closed captioned. So not only are your children seeing a video and hearing the narrator's voice, they are reading the script as well. And the list is impressive; with over 260 topics and 1500 videos to choose from. You can choose to narrow down the videos by subject or grade.

Here are the subject headings on the website:

Art
Biology
Geography
Health
History
Library Skills
Literature
Mathematics
Music
Religious Studies
Science
Social Studies

The videos are then organized by topic. For example in Literature some subtopics under European Literature are Science Fiction and Fantasy, The Ancient World and the Renaissance, and The Enlightenment and the Twentieth Century. When a video is selected, other Video Learning Tools can be utilized. These include a dictionary, encyclopedia, thesaurus, and World Fact book. These are interactive and pertain to the information that is being given in the video. There is a Video Word Glossary; when your child watches a video, the hard-to-understand words are highlighted. The meaning of these words can be looked up in this glossary. For every video there is a downloadable lesson guide. This guide has review questions, key glossary terms, and activities to do. These include an essay assignment, mapping activity, ideas to debate and discuss, and an activity to do. When your child has completed a subtopic, there is an interactive online quiz to take.

What You Get:

There are 4 different type of membership available to purchase:

Topic Taster: All videos in a topic (1 month - $5)
Bronze: All videos in a subject (1 month - $8.99; 12 months - $98.99)
Silver: All videos in a specific age/grade (1 month - $12.99; 12 months - $142.89)
Gold: All videos (1 month - $17.99; 12 months -197.89)

 See the Membership Information page for a breakdown of what is exactly offered at each level.

If you order an annual subscription of any of these levels before August 31st, you will receive a 35% discount. When you order, make sure you enter the promotional code: ZE794HSM.

The math videos on this website are not subtitled and do not have quizzes; they are actually videos from Khan Academy.There is a range of User Guides that are free to download.

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How We Used This:

I told each of my kids that I wanted them to choose a subtopic to watch, and then take the quiz. My youngest chose to watch the animal videos from Elementary Science. There were six of them (Animals, Birds, Fishes, From Sea to Land, Insects, and Mammals) that she watched over a period of a couple of weeks. They each lasted 8-14 minutes in length. I sat with her to watch them; we found them to be fun to watch, but sadly with a heavy emphasis on evolution. Dasher chose to watch the ones on Western US Geography. These were informative and she felt she learned a lot about the history of California. Bookworm chose to watch the videos under the topic of Orchestra Instruments. There was beautiful, orchestral music played as each family of the orchestra instruments was described, along with a brief history of each instrument and how it is played. Mr. Lego chose to watch the section on the Causes of World War I. He really enjoyed learning this way and felt that he better understood this important time in history.

What We Thought:

Well, I really wanted to like this. But sitting with my youngest and listening to the video tell us that man once crawled up from slime and we were once hairy like the apes was just too much. This actually became quite detrimental for her and her little mind. Since I was watching the videos with her, I would stop it and explain that this part wasn't true. She then began to question almost all the true facts she heard, not believing if it was right or not. I also watched parts of the video on western geography with Dasher and was a little dismayed to hear an emphasis on environmentalism and pollution. But to be fair, both of the sets of videos the older children watched were fine, and I felt they really learned from them in ways that would have been harder if they were reading from a text book.

If you order the Gold level membership, you will also receive a downloadable copy of  the 424-page Christian Home Learning Guide. This publication, written by Marshall Foster and Ron Ball presents the Christian view of the secular subjects in the videos. To me though, I would rather have it the other way around....a Christian science video, with an extra document for those to peruse that are not creationists.

Some students thrive on video lessons. I really liked it that my son was not only hearing the story of World War I, but he was reading the words as well. He also really enjoyed the interactive testing. He got excited looking at some of the other video topics and asked to incorporate them into our schooling next year. The interactive guides also added an element for families to study these topics together. So if you can pick through the evolutionary myths and find the sweet morsels of truth, then this might be a good fit for you. And with the flexibility that the membership options offer, you do have the ability to just purchase certain topics to study.

Other members of The Crew received a membership and wrote about their experience, check it out by clicking below.


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Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Crew, I received a 12 month subscription to this website, at no cost to me, for my honest and humble review. All opinions are mine.

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