Thursday, September 26, 2013

Videotext Interactive

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I am so fortunate to have received a 3 year subscription to Videotext Interactive Algebra: A Complete Course program to review for The OldSchoolhouse Magazine review crew.  I know other homeschoolers who’ve used the program and it always seemed like the crème de la crème of math programs but financially out of reach for my family.  The online program is new and since it isn’t a physical product, it comes at a more affordable price when compared to the traditional program. 
ONLINE ALGEBRA Modules A-F: Pre-Algebra, Algebra 1, and Algebra 2 (Classic Print Version – $529.00) ……. $299 - See more at:
The Algebra: A Complete Course program covers pre-Algebra, Algebra I, and Algebra II and retails for $299 (compared to the Classic Print Version which retails for $529).

The Scope & Sequence of the entire program can be seen here.  The pacing options include 3, 2, and 1 year options.  Your student’s grade level and previous experience with Algebra will determine which pacing option you choose.  Here is a sample of the 2 year pacing option.

Vidotext’s philosophy is to have students of mathematics master concepts not just memorize and learn shortcuts.  The video instructors strive to teach the how’s and why’s of the concepts not just how to solve a problem. 

I am opting to start from the beginning with my 9th grade student and work through the units in 2 to 3 years.  The two year option has students working through the video lessons every other day but we started working through Unit 1 lessons covering two lessons per day.  In my mind, math lessons should be done daily and since the videos are 5-10 minutes long we viewed two per day.  Parts A & B of Unit 1 were fairly easy for my student so I didn’t think it was necessary to drag it out.  Videotext Interactive provides a nice Progress Checklist so we printed it and were able to check off the Parts we completed as we went along.  

I viewed all of the videos with my student stopping the video at certain points to make sure she understood.   A day for my student looked like this:
  • Log in to site.  Watch the video lesson (6-10 minutes in length).
  • Ensure my student’s understanding of the material by having them teach back to me or through discussion of the material
  • Have student work even and/or odd Worktext problems
  • Immediately check solutions to problems correcting any mistakes
  • Next day, take quiz on previous day’s lesson; repeat
There are two versions of the quiz for each lesson.  Likewise there are two tests for each lesson.  Videotext Interactive suggests using one as a review and the second as the quiz/test that counts for a grade.  

 Between all 10 Units there are 176 video lessons to watch.  The Quick Reference Guide included in the program is all I really needed to understand how to get started. 

The online interface is pretty user friendly.  Everything you need for the day’s lesson is listed along the margin of  the screen.  If you want to view CourseNotes after viewing a lesson, it is a written summary of everything that was taught in the lesson.  The Worktext is listed in the margin for the student to practice problems related to the lesson.  The solutions to the Worktext problems are also listed along the margin.  The only thing not listed along the margin is the student’s quizzes/tests and the solutions to those tests.  The parent/teacher must log in to the interface under her unique log in/password to access those documents along with everything else the student has access to under their unique log in/password.

At the rate we are going I believe I could get through half of the course by year’s end if I don’t have to slow down.  That’s a bit ambitious of me and perhaps I’m basing my pace through this program on a few weeks of working through it but I believe it is doable for my student. 

Here is a sample of the entire program and how the videos are organized:

Unit 1 / Module A / 27 total videos / Structure of Mathematics
Unit 2 / Module B / 22 total videos / First Degree Relations – one placeholder (variable)
Unit 3 / Module C / 26 total videos / First Degree Relations – two placeholders
Unit 4 / Module C / 9 total videos / First Degree Relations – three placeholders
Unit 5 / Module D / 24 total videos /Second Degree Relations (polynomials)

Viewing a total of 108 videos on average 3 times a week, it will take 36 weeks to complete the program through Unit 5.  I'm aiming to view videos 5 times a week but I know we may have to slow down for tougher concepts so again I believe this is doable.

Here are a few things we don't like about the Videotext Interactive program.
  • Graphics seem outdated.  My student says it looks like the '70s
  • At the highest settings the volume is still kind of low.  (My computer has no other issues with sound)
  • Perhaps they should consider using more than one instructor to mix it up a bit
If I could make suggestions to improve the program, I would suggest the following:
  • Give student the ability to assess quizzes/tests from her log in.  Perhaps deny access until system records completion of previous lessons and appropriate worktext problems have been completed.
  • Have a progress section that shows all the videos that have been viewed, all quizzes/tests taken along with grade received.  In this way parents can quickly see at a glance what has been completed by the student and any potential problem areas based on quiz/test scores.
  •  included with the above improvements have students enter the answers directly into computer.  Of course this means student work all problems on their own paper but by entering the answers online the system keeps track of grades and progress.

My Final Thoughts:
To date, we have not done any work that is new to my 9th grader but I am trusting the Videotext philosophy.  Perhaps if we hadn’t done Algebra work during the summer I would feel a little nervous only working on what I consider to be pre-Algebra work so far in Videotext.  However, if my student walks away from this Algebra course with a thorough understanding of the concepts studied, it will be worth the slow pacing of the program. 

Click to read more reviews from the Schoolhouse Review Crew

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