Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Zane Education: A Schoolhouse Crew Review

In mid-June I was selected to be a part of the Schoolhouse Review Crew's group to review Zane Education's online educational video program.
I had never heard of Zane Education, but once I visited their site it was easy to get excited about what their goals and methods are and all that they have to offer. Their online educational video program utilizes what they call "The Missing Piece", which is subtitles. Studies have shown that subtitled videos significantly improve comprehension, as well as reading and literacy skills.

The scope of this video program is amazing!  Before I cover that, though, let me back up. Upon arriving at  Zane Education you are presented with some information about the product. This online educational video program is one of a kind, with a program to meet state educational standards for K-12, to supplement classroom education or a homeschool program, in a way that permits each student to learn at their own speed.  In addition to covering all grades, Zane Education tries to cover all required subjects. Subject offerings include: Art, Science, Geography, Health, History, Mathematics, Music, Literature, Religious Studies, and Social Sciences.

When you go to the top page of Zane Education, you are presented with these buttons:
 On the website, each of the buttons is linked. I quickly found "Home Education to be the most helpful link for us. It led to further links, and those links lead to more links. It's quite a labyrinth! AAAAhhhh! The only way to really experience it is to go there, download your Getting Started Guide, and begin the journey. Zane realizes their site can seem like a labyrinth, and that is why they recommend the downloading of their Zane Education Curriculum Topic and Video Title Catalog to look at before you get bogged down!
So my son and I explored many sections of the website. My son is very interested in Science. We spent some time in videos of the solar system, some studies of biology, some studies of cells, some studies of Animal Kingdom classification. We also spent some time in the Art section, learning about art in structures as well as general sculptures and painting.

Each video will have Learning Objectives for you and the student to read. Many of the lessons have Lesson Plans to download. There are links to a video word glossary, as well as an introduction with specific new vocabulary words highlighted and linked to definition. There is a linked encyclopedia, as well as a thesaurus. And each video has a quiz to be taken.

The videos are a combination of narrated slide show and narrated video. (The slide show and the narrator reminded me of my early grammar school days in the 1960's, when we literally had a slide show with a recording!) My son's attention is held better by the actual video clips, but that also depends on the subject matter. Some subject material holds his attention when presented both ways. I was pleased to see that my son knew a lot of the vocabulary already. I was also pleased to see that there was a balance, so that there were new vocabulary words to challenge him and help his vocabulary grow.

Just about any video in the files can be viewed, briefly, as a teaser. You start to get interested, and then it stops and suggests that if you want to see the rest of the video you need to subscribe. 
  • We liked the amazing depth of this program. Zane Education's online educational video program includes over 1500 videos on 400 topics!
  • We liked the subject choices, and the video choices within the subject choices.
  • We liked the links to the lesson plan, the vocabulary glossary, the dictionary, the thesaurus, and the learning objectives with the various videos.
  • Mom liked the quizzes so we can see how well he is retaining the information.
  •  We didn't like, so much, the "videos" that were like a slide show. But they grow on you.
  • We didn't like the size of the videos. The main video square is about 5"x6" on my screen, but the video within it is sometimes only about 1"x2"! I spoke with the Zane representative by email, and I understand that they don't want to cover up all the educational options buttons, but I still wish it were more like other video programs where you could watch in full-screen mode, but reduce with the escape key when you want to access the other buttons.
  • I didn't like that, for us, when using Firefox the video controls disappeared. Problem is currently still not solved. Right now we either watch on Firefox knowing we can't pause, or we watch on Internet Explorer so that we can properly use that feature.
  • I didn't like that the program would randomly log us out. I don't know why. Not a BIG deal, but annoying.
  • I watched a section of the Health Curriculum ("From Boy to Man"), and I imagine some of you won't want to let you children have access to this material. Personally, I think it is important information to cover, I think Zane handles it well... but I'm still not ready. Maybe I can get Dad to go over that material with him...
  • BCE" for "Before Common Era". Sheesh!)
Our home school educates using the Charlotte Mason method. That being the case, generally speaking, sitting in front of videos is not our normal learning mode. That said, I think for us Zane Education fills in holes in areas of our schooling that I have been neglecting... avoiding... not covering adequately. So I absolutely welcome this service for the broadening of our educational experiences.

Zane Education provides a page to help you know how to get started (Getting Started Page).  From there you can download your free Getting Started Guide.   There are different levels of membership, with one level being absolutely FREE!  There are FREE catalogs and user's guides.  There is a FREE daily video! And if you want more than what is offered for free, there are many different ways you can subscribe.  Here is a synopsis:

Free, which gives you all demo videos, math videos, interactive quizzes for each free video, Zane Education Video Catalogue (PDF), Getting Started Guide, Choice of User Guide, Interactive Video Study Tools, Download Lesson Plans per Topic, Other On site Learning Resources, as well as Customer Service support within 72 hours.

Topic Taster Membership, which gives all the Free materials plus all videos for one subject, for $5 per month.

Bronze Membership, which gives everything Free plus all videos for one grade, for $8.99/month or $98.89/year.

Silver Membership, which gives you everything Free plus all videos for one subject for $12.99/month or $142.89/year.

Gold Membership, which gives you everything Free, plus all Educational Videos, all videos by subject, all videos by grade, all videos by topic, Zane Home Learning Guide (PDF), Christian Learning Guide (PDF), all for $17.99/month or $197.99/year.

That might be expensive for you if you didn't budget for it. So... How about a discount?

If you order between now and the end of August, you can get a 35% discount on the purchase of any annual 12-month Gold, Silver or Bronze membership subscription by entering this promotion code when checking out:

(case sensitive)    ZE652HSM

So follow my links and try out Zane Education. There is a lot there for free, and maybe you will decide to subscribe at a premium level at a discount!

My family received a one year Gold membership to Zane Education in exchange for this review.  I did not receive any other compensation. I was not told what to say. All opinions contained herein are my own.

This has been a Schoolhouse Crew Review.

To see more reviews by my fellow Crew-mates, click on the link below:

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