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Monday, April 10

CompuScholar Inc. Review

Previously known as Homeschool Programming, CompuScholar, Inc. teaches students computer programming and web design through hands-on, internet-based courses.  They are also introducing a new Digital Savvy course, designed to teach students about computers basics and web safety.  Our son, Cullowhee, has been working with the Web Design course for the past several weeks.  You can see his website here.

The KidCoder Web Design course teaches students the basics of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript as it guides them through creating their own web page.  It is designed to be a year-long course for the middle or high school level student.  No previous programming experience is required, as lesson one begins with the <html> tag….aka ‘computer ABC.’  The course also addresses various operating systems and how the code will appear on each of these.  All of these are background skills / information necessary for creating a successful web page.  Though geared toward children, this is real computer coding, with actual web language.  The way it’s presented it tailored to kids, but the material itself transcends all ages.

Each of the lessons provides the background information, video examples, printable (though we did not print anything) text to review, tests and quizzes, and hands-on projects.  They are engaging and even entertaining at times, and they are definitely geared toward kids and teens.  The concepts build upon each other, so each lesson includes some review and some new information, but not so much as to be overwhelming to the student.


This course covers fundamental web design skills such as:
  • Basic web site layout
  • HTML5 symbols and elements
  • Text styles
  • Hyperlinks and navigation bars
  • CSS effects, spacing and positioning
  • Graphics and image editing
  • Tables
  • Page design principles
  • Dynamic menus
  • Embedded audio and video
  • JavaScript and jQuery

The tests are basic multiple choice questions designed to check understanding of the theory and information presented.  It is the hands-on projects, however, that truly test your ability to apply that knowledge.  For this reason, after a few chapters, we stopped taking the quizzes and focused solely on application of the information.
Students have the option of the self-study or teacher-led course.  We used the self-study option, which is available for $15 / month or $120 / year.  The self-study course allows students to move at their own pace.  It automatically grades quizzes, but parents must monitor work and certify course completion.  This option includes both a student and teacher account.  The teacher account offers teacher training modules (see pic) and features lesson guides and information for hands-on projects.  The teacher-led option is $35 / month or $300 / year.  For more information on that option, go here.

Notes
  • Video + Audio + Hands-on is teaching to all three major modes of learning….which is probably the best way to ensure they retain information!
  • Each lesson is kept short and focused.  There are a couple of longer, meatier, lessons, but they are rare.
  • The course is designed to be used by the student alone.  If you have a younger student, or special needs student, it would be completely appropriate for you to sit in and help when needed.
  • There is another course, Digitally Savvy, that is even more basic, and covers all the hardware and basics of software that a student would want before entering into more information technology courses.  It's a 'first step' in computers for students.

On final note…
While it’s true that there are a lot of free options available for teaching coding, the adage ‘you get what you pay for’ is true.  My son had begun his website with a template, and often needed extra help to get things “just so,” but since beginning these lessons, he has come to me considerably less often with questions.  (There are posts for his site still in the draft stage, as he gets them perfectly perfect.)  With Compuscholar, Inc., you get lessons designed specifically for kids and teens that provide a solid foundation.  There are also other options for continuing study available at the site if you want to pursue further study.  It’s hard to put a price on skills and confidence, especially when it comes to our kids!

See what others are saying about CompuScholar, Inc. courses at the Schoolhouse Review Crew.
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