Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Excuse My Absence....

Well, it has been a month since my last post.  How did that happen?  Oh yes, I've been having a summer!  Hope all you moms & teachers have been taking a break.  Summer flies by too fast and is all to often (at least in my house) consumed by plans for the upcoming year and not enough laziness.

Today, I want to review for you a product that we've been using this month called Zane Education.  ZE is more of an online library of educational videos and resources on all topics for all ages.  It is a way to integrate a visual aspect of learning into your curriculum. 

When you log on to Zane, you can search by topic or by age level.  It has videos for Elementary, Middle School, High School, College and Adult.  I found several topics that I randomly clicked on, but found myself watching until the end because they were thought-provoking and new to me.

What makes Zane Education different from some other video learning sites, is the large, readable subtitles under all their videos.  On one hand, if you have a struggling reader, it could help them improve their reading, similar to read-along audio stories.  On the other hand, if you have an advanced reader, they could get frustrated reading the subtitles quickly and then waiting painstakingly for the narrator to catch up.  I have one of each in my household, so there were mixed reviews on that point.

I found the diversity of topics to be quite good.  I enjoyed videos on the Bayeaux Tapestry, The Lost Generation of Post WWI writers, as well as videos my kids will use for their upcoming study on the Erie Canal, Westward Expansion, as well as the Digestive System.  I noticed that the content of the videos seemed a little "kitschy", a la 1960's public service announcements, or in some cases, the old Disney educational filmstrips.  I couldn't tell whether they were old-fashioned or if the Zane people were just being nostalgic on purpose.  I didn't have a problem with them, but I'm wondering if modern kids will find them a tad silly.

Zane's video library does contain topics about puberty and sex education, but they do not come up when searching in the Elementary level videos.  However, the science section (and even the geography section) contains videos that focus on or mention evolution.  With a roll of the eyes, our family skips these.  We currently subscribe to a similar service of cartoon videos for various topics, and I find the same secular components in this service.  In some cases, it's better not to throw the baby out with the bathwater--we just use what we like and ignore the few things that we don't agree with.

Despite some negatives, including the annoying banner that covers the progress bar at the bottom of the video screen and the three icons on the video that seem to do nothing, I found that Zane Education videos are something we could use quite often.  This is especiallly due to the fact that they have downloadable lesson plans which include helpful vocabulary, an at-hand dictionary (I randomly plugged in the words "malicious" and "propogation" to try to trip up the system, but they were there!), a World Fact Book, a thesaurus, and a rather impressive encyclopedia. 

Students can even take online quizzes after viewing the videos in a particular section, which provides some assessment for the teacher. 

Click here to check out the pricing for memberships to Zane.  They range from $8.99 to $17.99 per month, depending on whether you want full access, access to all videos in a subject, or access to all videos in a grade level.  There are many choices, so check out which membership suits your needs.

Click here to see what other Crew members thought of Zane Education.

**I was provided full access to Zane Education for one year in exchange for an honest review.  I have received no other compensation, financial or otherwise.


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