Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Digital Savvy ~ Review

In this age of technology it is really important for our students to understand fundamental computing topics so I knew I had to review the new Digital Savvy course from CompuScholar, Inc. My teen has been using the information technology course, 'Digital Savvy' which we were given access to for the purposes of this review.

What is Digital Savvy.

CompuScholar, Inc formerly known as Homeschool Programming has a range of computer courses aimed at middle and high school aged students.

Digital Savvy is aimed at grades 6 - 12 and is an overall Information Technology course. It aims to teach the students about computers, various applications, it explores social media, has them creating simple web pages.

The topics covered in the Digital Savvy course are:
  • Hardware, software, and operating systems
  • Managing files and folders
  • Basic networking
  • Online safety and computer security
  • Using Word processors, spreadsheets, and presentation programs
  • Creating simple databases
  • Image editing
  • Using social media and email communications
  • Introductory website design
  • Simple computer programming concepts
  • Exploration of computing careers

This is exactly the sort of course I have been wanting my teen to undertake.  A good overview of all things I.T and so far this course has been valuable to him.

How We Have Used Digital Savvy

This has been one of the easiest to use programs we have come across in a very long time. It is so well laid out and navigation is a real breeze. As a user you really can't get anything wrong.

After logging in to the program and selecting the Digital Savvy Course we were greeted with the screen below. There are a total of 25 Chapters in the course.

Each chapter contains several lessons, a brief quiz at the end of each lesson. A culminating activity and chapter exam is also included.

It really is as simple as log in and get started right where you left off the previous day.

Below I have shared a series of screenshots showing the progression through the program.


After logging into the Digital Savvy Course you are met with the chapters screen. Digital Savvy contains a total of 25 chapters.



The lessons within each chapter are again very simple to navigate to. Each lesson contains a video and a quiz. All of the quizzes are graded.
 


At the end of each chapter (approximately 3 - 5 lessons) is a culminating activity or project. These are submitted to the teacher (parent) for grading and the grades are stored along with each of the lesson quizzes.



On completion of all the lessons and the activity for each chapter is a longer multiple choice test, which once again, this is graded.

What We Didn't Like

My son and have been chatting about this and there really isn't anything he doesn't like about the course. Some of it he already knows but that will be the case with many things he undertakes. Whilst he still is only in the early chapters the short lessons and ease of use really make this such a simple subject for him and a very hands off one for me.

What We Did Like

For me as the teacher/parent I love that this is completely graded. All of his scores are kept and he can see his grades for each test immediately. He also has the option of repeating the test if he wishes to try and improve his score.


To use the program effectively we need nothing other than our computer and a decent internet connection. Every now and then a pen and paper and a word processing program is required but the bulk of the course is completed through the course itself.


As a busy mum with younger kids in the house that need my attention having the teen able to work independently, even on new to us courses, is such a blessing.



Looking Ahead

Without a doubt we will continue working our way through this course to completion and I am very confident that I will have my other children take the Digital Savvy Course also as it is great computer science basics course.

Further Details

Payment options for courses are either month by month or year long access. To find out more details about this program be sure to visit the Compuscholar, Inc website. You can also find them on your favourite social media channels. Facebook -
https://www.facebook.com/CompuScholar Twitter -  https://twitter.com/CompuScholar

If you would like to read other reviews about the various courses offered simply click on the image below.


Digital Savvy, Web Design & Java Programming {CompuScholar,Inc Reviews}



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Thursday, April 6, 2017

Ex Tropical Cyclone Debbie Aftermath


We recently experienced one of the worst natural disasters our local area has seen in a very long time. I personally have no memory of anything ever hitting our area as hard as this.

In less than 30 hours our area had 890 mm of rain dropped on us. No wonder it had nowhere to go.



We though, are the lucky ones and whilst being placed on a possible evacuation list was mightily scary our only real threat was that of surrounding roads being cut off.


And cut off they were and still are. The above three images are from a road that we use almost daily. The sheer force of the water is simply unimaginable.



This is a major bridge and thoroughfare for our area and we cross this bridge at least once a week. It is an area of the river that floods regularly, but that happens way down below the bridge, across the old original bridge that is much closer to the actual river flow height.


This newer bridge is several metres higher than the flow of the river and has received extensive structural damage.



For water to bend a light pole is simply mind blowing.


The kids could not believe their eyes and this was absolutely hands down the best way to show them the reasons why they never ever enter flood water or try to cross a bridge that is covered with flood water.

We simply have no idea what is under that water and whether the bridge is even actually still there, as happened a few kilometers from us.

So whilst we certainly didn't want to experience a natural distaster on this scale and my heart breaks for everyone that has been so severely affected by this, it truly is education at it's best.

Eyes glued to the weather radar, watching the cyclone, tracking it's moves, discussing the eye and then watching how it breaks up as it heads south.

Then sitting through the torrential rain, only to wake and see the worst flooding we've seen right across the road from us.

Nature's fury right there in all its glory.



The vast majority of the time flooding creates nothing but havoc and devastation but every so often it creates a beautiful scene and the stillness of what appeared to simply be a lake was quite beautiful, except that it was covering a road, had entered several houses in this area and took lives, both animal and human.

Simply heartbreaking.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Creating A Masterpiece ~ Review

We are currently receiving excellent fine art lessons via the monthly plan from Creating A Masterpiece. Our family has been access to this online program in return for our honest review.


What Is Creating A Masterpiece.

C.A.M is an online subscription based fine arts program, that is suitable for students of all ages. We were provided access to the Monthly Plan option.

The video lessons are presented by the artist herself, in an easy to follow step by step manner.

All the lessons are broken into appropriate levels so that you can easily assess the difficulty of which level would best suit the child.

In all there are six levels, plus an art history section, to choose from. Within each level are several art projects all using a wide variety of mediums.

This is not an arts and crafts or simplistic art projects program. This is a fine arts program designed for school age students. 

How We Have Used The Program.


When we were first given our family access to C.A.M we immediately set out to explore the site. There is a large number of projects for the children to choose from. After a good look around in each level, watching a few video snippets and downloading the printable supply sheets for a couple of the projects, we settled on choosing an introductory level lesson.

 Lessons In Watercolour: Floral Medley

This particular lesson was broken into three step by step videos and it required drying time before moving on to the next step in the video lessons. 

Sharon, the artist, walks the students through every step of the process. At first we tried to keep up with her, only pausing the video when we needed. We quickly realised for us it was better to watch the video all the way through and to then go back and begin the lesson ourselves, referring back to the video when required.

From there we moved on to a lesson using oil pastels.

 Lesson In Oil Pastel: Winter Cabin

This was a longer lesson with four videos in all, which the kids chose to complete over a couple of days.  Each lesson also includes a section with hints and tips to assist you in getting the best out of the video lessons.

My teen decided to tackle one of the lessons with something a little more challenging for him. He does enjoy his art and seems to me to have a natural flair and this program is a good fit for him to be able to work quietly and independently.

 Lesson In Soft Pastel: Country Rooster

As I type he is sitting across from me on the other computer browsing the lessons for his next choice.

What We Didn't Like


There's actually not a lot we didn't like about this program. If I had to pick something it would be that my youngest does not thrive in this type of video based art instruction. This is the third program of a similar nature that we have tried and I have come to realise that for now at least this type of art instruction is not for him. 

He finds it all quite overwhelming, the watching, the doing, the remembering it all and then add in the fact that his piece never looks like the piece in the video and he simply doesn't enjoy it. My eldest two though are fine working with a video based instruction program, so you just need to really know your kids.


What We Did Like


The variety of what was on offer and the depth at which the student can go if they wish. Some of those upper level pieces are really quite involved, so even some of the most accomplished artists will not be bored here.

The fact that this is true art. It is not craft. It is not cookie cutter art either, that you often see in other programs.  

Now that we have settled in to the program I love simply adding 'art' to the list of topics to be completed this week and my eldest two can get themselves online and choose their own project and complete it entirely on their own.

I also really like the variety of mediums on offer in the various lessons:

    Acrylic
    Batik
    Block Printing
    Carving
    Conte' Crayon
    Copper Tooling
    Glass Mosaic
    Gouache
    Ink
    Mixed Media
    Oil Painting
    Oil Pastel
    Pencil/Charcoal
    Sculpture
    Silk Painting
    Soft Pastel
    Watercolor
    Wood Burning


Looking Ahead


We were given access to Creating A Masterpiece for six months, in return for our honest review. It has absolutely found a staple place in our week and it will continue to be used here in our homeschool.

Further Details


I always love a true, 'try before you buy' and you can do this with Creating a Masterpiece, with their free sample project.

To view the various ways to subscribe to the Creating A Masterpiece website visit their subscription page.

Want to know more? Visit their website or follow Creating A Masterpiece on facebook.  



I hope you have found this review helpful. If you would like to see more reviews about this vendor from other crew members simply visit this link. 

 

Happy Homeschooling,
Kylie

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