Friday 13 March 2015

Visual Learning Systems {Review}

Over the last year I have been aiming at a delight directed approach in our home education journey.  One of the things I have discovered is that Nathaniel loves all manner of visual media both in our homeschool and leisure time at home.  His second passion is science.

Recently Visual Learning Systems blessed our home school with Digital Science Online: Elementary Edition (Grades K-5). We have been really enjoying all they have to offer us. The best part is that the lessons are both visual and practical in nature.

Visual Learning Systems offer digital video science subscriptions for primary, elementary and and high school levels covering a range of scientific subjects in the areas of  biology, earth, life, physical and health. You're able to access the video lessons on multiple platforms including your iPad and smart TV.

What we received

What happens when you log in
Student Interface - Video Tab
Student Log-in Page
In the primary level we had access to:
  1. Physical - 21 lessons
  2. Earth - 22 lessons
  3. Life - 18 lessons
  4. Health - 3 lessons
In the elementary level we had access to:
  1. Physical - 20 lessons
  2. Earth - 17 lessons
  3. Life - 25 lessons
You can view a comprehensive breakdown of each unit study on the Visual Learning Elementary Edition page.  Click on any of the units of study and you will be taken to a separate page with a breakdown of that lesson along with a sample of the video lesson. 

In the student area you are also able to print off the following for each lesson:
  1. Pre Tests
  2. Post Tests
  3. Video Review
  4. Vocabulary
  5. Exercises 
Teacher Interface - Teacher Guides Tab
Teachers Log-in Page
Teachers have a separate log in area which has the same interface as the student log in with a few extra support materials in the teachers guide section.   You have the option of downloading the full guides and printing them or just using them online on your own digital device.  The guides are divided into four areas:
  1. Introducing the video
  2. Student activities
  3. Learning Objectives 
  4. Video Script
How we used it
Navigating Visual Learning Systems was really easy and therefore one of the reasons I enjoy using the program.  At the beginning of the week I would log in to the teachers area, look through the topics available and select one that I wanted to pursue for the week.

We have been using Apologia Exploring Creation with Astronomy, so our first port of call was Earth's Nearest Neighbours.

In the teachers area you can look at each of the four areas separately via a short-cut link or download the instructors guide. The guide is in PDF format containing all the objectives, worksheets, answer keys, practical hands on activities and a video script.

As a teacher you can choose how many or few worksheets you would like your students to do.  For students who really enjoy worksheets there are plenty to choose from.  In this unit we started off with the pre-test. The purpose of the pre-tests is for your student to discover how much they know before watching the video.

We then watched the lesson. Each lesson is presented in a highly visual format with beautiful graphics, video animations and camera work from around the globe.
Student Interface - Images Tab
You have the option of printing and using a Video Review form with the students along with the video.  Each time there is a 'You decided ...' question during the video there is a space in the form for the student to fill in.   The video's were in high definition and we were able to view them in full screen mode.

After each presentation we used the post-test sheets as a recap and narration opportunity to reinforce the learning we had just completed.  Some days we did it straight after the video lesson and sometimes we used it the next day.

There were two hands on activities for this particular unit. The first one was really interesting. We made a to scale Solar System model. This involved using play dough and modeling each planet and the sun. We then went outside and lay the planets out according to the distances on the sheet. The distance from the Sun to Neptune was 90 meters. It was a great visual about the vastness of our solar system. Each of the planets were to scale too and varied in mm from .10 to 2.9 and the sun was 2.8 cm. We also did a hands on activity about the Shape of an Orbit.

There was also a vocabulary and writing activity available for this unit but I decided that Nathaniel had done enough writing.

Cost of Visual Learning Systems
Visual Science is available as an annual subscription for homeschooling families. These prices are for up to 8 students per family.
  • Elementary edition (grades K-5): $99.00
  • Secondary edition (grades 6-12): $99.00 
  • FREE trials are available on request.
Recommended Age Range
  • Grades K-5
  • Grades 6-12
Connect with Visual Learning Systems

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Nathaniel and I are both enjoying the twaddle free science lessons presented by Visual Learning Systems.  The detailed visually enhanced lessons are a pleasure to use and to watch. The longer we use Visual Learning the more I appreciate the meaty content supplied.  All the work is done for me.  I don't need to go looking for YouTube clips or Notebooking pages they are all supplied.  All the work is done for me.  The program can be used as a stand alone program or as a supplemental course to enhance your student's scientific course of study.  I highly recommend that you apply for a FREE trial today and try out the course for yourself.

I also loved the fact that I haven't needed any specialised equipment to do any of the hands on science activities.


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