Thursday, May 25, 2017

CompuScholar, Inc. Web Design Course Review

Four years ago I was given the opportunity to review a high school computer programming curriculum (My review of Teen Coder Java Series) produced by Homeschool Programming. They are expanding their horizons to include public and private schools as well as homeschoolers, and are rebranding their company as CompuScholar, Inc.  (Hey! How do you like that? So many companies retool what they're doing to include homeschoolers. I love the fact that a company that started out focusing on homeschoolers is expanding into the public/private market!) In the course of that rebranding, they have given the Homeschool Review Crew the opportunity to review their programs again, including their newest offering Digital Savvy, as well as Java Programming, and  Web Design, which is what my 16-year old was chosen to review.

Web Design is a two Semester course with no prior computer class prerequisites. One thing that I greatly appreciate about this program is that it is useful for both MAC and Windows operating systems ~ so often there seem to be directions for only one or the other. Twenty-eight chapters are divided into thirty-four weekly lessons. Each chapter includes programming labs which my son found to be straightforward and relatively easy to complete.  The complete course syllabus can be found on the website.

The lessons start out with the very basics of web design and chapter one moves fairly slowly. My son said that one of his main impressions is that someone who knew nothing about computers or web design would be able to use this program very easily. However, I am happy to inform you that even my more experienced son was learning things that he hadn't learned before. From chapters 2 and on it advances at a more rapid pace, while still explaining things clearly.

The student dashboard is made up of icons that lead the student through the program. Here you can see the flow at the end of the first chapter~ Each lesson has a video, lesson text and a quiz (here you see Lesson Three) accessed by clicking on the icons. The next section is the lab activity, and the chapter concludes with a multiple choice exam.
Note: many lab activities (including this one) have an "Activity File" icon, which means that there are files that the student will need to download to their computer in order to complete the activity.

This screen shot shows the lesson video that pops up in the right-hand corner of the screen when that icon is selected. My son wasn't able to ever open it full screen on his computer, but that didn't end up being an issue for him.

This next screen shot is from the lesson text that my son accessed after watching the video. He found it very useful to skim the text to make sure that he didn't miss any points made during the video lesson.
This is an example of part of one of the lesson quizzes: 

Now, there are also some helps for those of us administering the course, assuming that we aren't all computer science whizzes...
This is what the teacher dashboard looks like, open to the first chapter.

The program grades everything but the Lesson Activities, but don't worry, they have help for us there. The Professional Development Tab opens up a slew of videos that walk the instructor/administrator/mom/dad through the entire process, with FAQs common to all the courses:

As well as specific tutorials for each one~ here is a screenshot of the training available for the Web Design Course: 

When you click on one of the video icons the instructional video will open and walk you through each specific step.

And remember I mentioned help grading the student activities? Here is a bit on one of the included rubrics, just to give you an idea of how it works (This is a screenshot taken from one of those very helpful "professional development" videos, not the actual rubric):

However, I should also mention that if administering the course and grading activities sends a shudder up your spine, you can also subscribe to a teacher led course (smile) at an additional cost.

Based on our experience with Web Design, I would sum it up by saying it is a very clear program that should produce successful results regardless of student or "administrator" experience.

Not So Nutty Nitty Gritty 
  • Company: CompuScholar, Inc.
  • Product: Web Design 
  • Ages: Grades 6-12
  • Price: 
    • Self Study $15/month or $120/year
    • Teacher Led $35/month or $300/year
    • (Sibling discounts may apply)
Visit CompuScholar, Inc. on their social media sites on Facebook and Twitter
and their sister site Homeschool Programming also on Facebook and Twitter

Please click the banner below to visit the TOS Homeschool Review Crew and see what others had to say about all three CompuScholar Inc. courses. As always, I hope that this review was useful to you as you choose where best to spend your homeschool budget.
Click to read Crew Reviews
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#hsreviews  #computerprogrammingforkids #codingforkids #computerskills

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