Recently the Homeschool Review Crew had the opportunity to use and review their choice of one of three online courses from CompuScholar, Inc. As a crew leader I was blessed to receive teacher and student access for all three courses: Digital Savvy, Web Design, and Java Programming.
You may already be familiar with CompuScholar, Inc. from their old name: Homeschool Programming. We loved Homeschool Programming and I even wrote a review of their TeenCoder C# Series which included Windows Programming and Games Programming.
Topics Covered in Digital Savvy:
While I have learned my way around computers, there is still so much I don't really know or understand so I've been working through Digital Savvy for myself! Digital Savvy is a great introduction to computers and technology. It starts with the basics. In the lessons in the first chapter explain what "hardware" is. You'll also learn a bit of the history of computers and you'll be able to define "peripherals". In the following chapters you'll learn about software, operating systems, and computer files. One thing I really appreciated about Digital Savvy is that it included information on Linux and Android not just Mac and Windows! In addition to these computer basics, you'll learn about Search Engines, Computer Networks, and Computer Security.
What I am looking forward to though are the chapters that cover Word Processing, Spreadsheet Programs, Presentation Programs, and Database Technology. I am hoping that the chapter on Database Technology will give me enough skills to start playing with creating a database to use for church library! (Yes, Honeybear and I have volunteered to do the Church Library!) There is even a chapter that covers Project Management and Teamwork. Oh goodness but listening to BooBear as she worked with many teams to do project presentations in her different classes she and her classmates would have done well to study this chapter!
In the second half of the course students move into working with the internet. There are two chapters just on Social Media. I think I might have to skip ahead to the chapter on Digital Images. Also covered are Web Design and Internet Communication. Digital Savvy also introduces Programming Concepts and Digital Logic. The last chapter before the Final Project covers Careers and Professional Skills.
How the Course Works
These courses are online and students work can work through the materials independently. Students and teachers log in to their account and are taken to their dashboard or home page. To get to the course material click on the course title. This will bring up the page with the list of chapters. Click on a chapter to see the individual lessons, chapter activity, and exam. Unfortunately the program does not remember where you left off.
Digital Savvy has 25 chapters plus a "chapter" of Supplemental Lessons. Each chapter is divided into Lessons. The number of lessons varies from chapter to chapter with as few as 3 Lessons to as many as 6. Most chapters have 3 Lessons. All Chapters include an Activity and a Chapter Exam.
Each lesson contains Video, Text and Quiz. The same information from the Video is presented in the Text however, there is more information in the Text. Ideally, the student would watch the video which gives an introduction to the lesson and then read through through the Lesson Text. If a student is only going to complete one or the other, I strongly recommend choosing Lesson Text over Lesson Video as the text includes additional information and for many of the lessons a Work With Me Section that includes discussion questions or an assignment.
The Chapter Activity provides hands on experience with the skills or topics covered. For example in the activity for Chapter 4 students create folders, copy, move, and delete folders, and create a zip file. When I get to Chapter 12, I will create a Music Database and I hope that will give me the experience I need to create a Book Database!
Lesson Quizzes and Chapter Exams are graded automatically by the program. In Digital Savvy and Web Design students may attempt the quiz up to 3 times. We noticed though that in Java Programming it was only 2 attempts. Chapter Activities must be graded by the teacher. These can be submitted through the course and the teacher can access them through their Dashboard. The grading is easy! CompuScholar includes a Rubric so I just have to answer "yes" or "no". The course calculates the grade for me.
Turtlegirl is home for the summer and she's been working a bit with Web Design and Java Programming. Here are her thoughts:
First of all, I am a Computer Science major. I know my way around computers. I was doing this for fun. I decided to play around with the Web Design and Java Programming because it's been awhile since I studied Websites and I have never learned Java. One of the things I noticed and appreciated was the inclusion of Linux and other operating systems besides Windows in the first chapters of the Java Programming. I also greatly appreciated the time they took to introduce the history of computers and operating systems, as well as the discussion of computer ethics. I like having both a video to watch and a lesson to read. I did find that I could skip the video and not miss any information. I like the submission format, and I like that the program gives the student the grading rubric. I find that very helpful. I did not like the fact that with the quizzes, the wrong answers are not clearly shown in the review section. I found it very difficult to find where I went wrong and it was very frustrating. Overall, I liked the program a lot and I recommend it to students and those who are just studying computer science for fun.
I agree with Turtlegirl that for Web Design and Java Programming, which are set up exactly like Digital Savvy with Chapters that include Lessons, Activity and Chapter Exam including Lesson Video, Lesson Text, and Lesson Quiz, do not have the same easily visible "this answer is right" or "this answer is "wrong". I really appreciate that Digital Savvy shows the correct answer.
I love how easy it is to use the courses. These are solid programs and the Java Programming is an AP level course! I recommend Digital Savvy for all students as an introductory computer science course and for students who discover a love of computers and programming I would suggest moving on to Web Design, Java Programming or any of the other courses offered. The courses offered by CompuScholar, Inc. prepared Turtlegirl so well that she was bit bored in her computer science class at college!
Don't just take our word for it! Go check out what other crew members had to save about these courses!
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