Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Standard Deviants Accelerate Review

I have heard about Standard Deviants educational resources for quite a few years (They’ve been around for upwards of 20 years)~ so when I was offered the opportunity to review their latest product, Standard Deviants Accelerate Homeschool Courses found at their website Standard Deviants Accelerate, I jumped at the chance. This is an online resource with complete supplementary core classes available for learners aged 8-adult.
The classes offered are: 

  • Arithmetic - Grades 3+
  • Fundamental Math - Grades 4+
  • Earth Science - Grades 6+
  • Nutrition - Grades 6+
  • Algebra - Grades 7+
  • Biology - Grades 7+
  • Chemistry - Grades 9+
  • English Comp. - Grades 9+
  • U.S. History - Grades 9+
  • AP Biolody - Grades 11+
  • AP Chemistry - Grades 11+
  • AP U.S. Government & Politics - Grades 11+
  • AP U.S. History - Grades 11+
  • AP Eng. Composition - Grades 11+
I was interested to see how this worked with my children, as they have enjoyed both online and video courses in the past, and I was curious about Standard Deviants and it’s ability to catch the attention of the student.

Here is a short overview of the program: 

The greatest facet of Standard Deviants Accelerate is the video presentation. It is very fast paced and moves from person to person and venue to venue while presenting the topical information in a steady stream. The student can choose to watch the video full screen, or in a smaller box, with a transcript to the left, and a box below for taking notes as they watch (which can then be saved to their locker).

The video below is a little long, but shows what the program looks like from the student side. You can get a feel for what the screen looks like right around the 45 second mark. 

From the video, the student moves on to other online activities including interactive worksheets and quizzes which are automatically graded. If the student misses a problem, they have the opportunity to click right through to the spot in the video where the information was given.

The teachers desktop includes editable rubrics for assessing any written or group activity work as well, which might eliminate some work for busy educators.

So~ how did this work for us? Well, first off I need to clarify something. Most of the Standard Deviants Accelerate courses cover full year courses, however, the AP courses are really more like test-taking strategy classes each with an emphasis on their specific class. This came as a surprise to us when my daughter started the AP Gov’t class~ she was stumped as to why there wasn’t another lesson to move on to, and wondered what she needed to do to continue~ turns out that the test prep classes are just one lesson. 
If you haven't used any other Test-taking strategy classes, one of these might be a fun way to learn some strategies. 

After figuring that out, she started an actual core class, American History. There were many more lessons to be gone through here, so she could give it a good trial. 

Unfortunately we have learned that She is just *not* a standard deviant (neither is she a nonstandard deviant), the videos just did not suit her personality or learning style. They really do switch from one person and background to another very rapidly, often with only one sentence apiece, which made it seem very broken up and choppy to her. Eldest found it difficult to follow along with the transcript on the left AND watch the video in the tiny box to the right, and forget taking notes. There was just too much going on in one confined space for her. She also found it odd that the quizzes were extremely short (5 or 6 questions) for the amount of material presented.

After I realized that this wasn’t going to work well for Eldest, I pulled Middlest in to try out some of the Biology class. His opinion was somewhat similar to his sisters. He found the videos to be a little young and too goofy for his taste, but with more information in them than he could easily catch with one listen through. They reminded me of the newer (post mid-80s) Sesame Street with the rapid changes and costuming, but with higher level topics. My children didn’t grow up with Sesame Street, and my oldest two don’t tend to go in for ultra silly in most of their media. 

However, if your children are used to Sesame Street-style learning/ Saturday Night Live style skits, and don’t mind odd characters (Like Madame Vocabulaaahr, a medium who goes through the vocabulary on her crystal ball), this might be a good fit for you. If you click the graphic to the left before November 15th 2014, you can apply for a 6 month free trial and check it out yourself. 

Not So Nutty Nitty Gritty 
You can find Standard Deviants Accelerate online Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+  

Please click the banner below to visit the TOS Review Crew and see what others had to say. As always, I hope that this review was useful to you as you choose where best to spend your homeschool budget.

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