Thursday, July 26, 2012

Infusing Visual Learning Strategies with Zane Education

My boys really enjoy integrating videos and movies into our homeschool subjects. It is pretty easy to find short clips on the web, but sometimes, I feel like something is just "missing" when I pull off a clip from a random online source.  I'm not always sure of it's appropriateness for our family viewing standards or for our worldview...and sometimes I feel like we need a bit more "back story" to improve our understanding our what we are seeing.

So, reviewing Zane Education prior to our school year was a huge blessing for our family.  I had not heard of Zane, but had heard of many other subscription based media services for education.

Zane offers over 1,600 of videos (running in duration from just a few minutes to around 25 minutes long) in such a wide variety of topics, that I'm sure you'll hit one of these this year: skills studies.
{The website says ESL and foreign languages are coming soon!}

Educational videos are available for grades pre-school through high school and beyond. 

Zane also offers quizzes, lesson plans, and study tools.  They have several resource guides available to help you align their videos with your Christian homeschooling content. You can compare Zane to other streaming video sources to really see how much you get with a video subscription.

Speaking of subscriptions, Zane can be purchased in several different levels of access:
  1. Gold ($17.99/ month or $197.89/ year) - access to the entire Zane library
  2. Silver ($12.99/ month or $142.89/ year) - access to all videos for an age/grade range
  3. Bronze ($8.99/ month or $98.98/ year) - access to all videos for a subject (say, geography)
They have a "topic tester" $5/ month service to try Zane.  You can learn about all the features of the subscriptions at their Membership Information page.
Use the following {case sensitive} code to receive 35% off your annual subscription!  The code is: ZE744HSM (good through August 31, 2012)

    And, they have a free membership that gives you access to a smaller library of their video.

    Forgot to mention: Sex education videos are included on this site.  There is one for boys, one for girls, and a teen-focused one on pregnancy and childbirth featuring two teens who are pregnant and follows them into the birth room. I watched the boy video and the pregnancy one:  it is well done and covers the basics of a secular sex education.  You'll want to pre-watch them before your children.

    Our thoughts and recommendations: I had no trouble setting up or getting started with Zane.  When I signed up for our Gold access membership account, I was given just one account log in.  At first I wasn't sure how I'd track the boys' quiz scores, but then I read that results can be emailed to an account for tracking. I found that many of the videos we watched were a piece of a larger topic, and the quizzes were testing at a topic level, not at an individual video level.

    I encourage you to watch the free video of the day to see if this is the sort of presentation that your children will like.  The videos are a combination of some moving video and slides.  We watched a movie about the impressionistic painters of the late 1800s, and that was a slide show of important works from the time.  The video we watched entitled "Becoming Americans" was a clever re-telling of events leading up to closing of Boston's Harbor after the Boston Tea Party.  It was definitely meant for early and middle elementary-aged students, because it was a set of slides that were illustrated as if in a children's picture book (the screenshot below is from this video).

    I need to be totally honest:  my kids were not thrilled with the videos.  I think they were anticipating something a big more "History Channel"-ish, so the combination of "slides," moving action, and subtitles (which I totally love, and think is very important for my son, Luke, who struggles with reading fluency - You can read more about Zane's distinct advantage, closed-captioning, by clicking  The Missing Piece (c).) was a disappointment.  My only disappointment was in the size of the video screen.

    I've set the size of this picture to "original size" so that you can see the size of the video.  The video does not "pop out" and become larger like you can opt to do with other streaming video sites (like YouTube).

    You might be wondering about the magnifying glass symbol, the "Q & A" and the set of books on the right side of the video screen.  I've been wondering about them since I first logged into Zane.  While I was re-reading about the company, I discovered this quote:
        Since 1989, our sister company Zane Publishing has been electronically publishing the best educational material in partnership with leading textbook and curriculum publishers. Each title has been specifically designed and developed to teach that material as per the requirements of the K-12 curriculum.
        Now, these same titles originally published as educational software on CD-ROM and used in schools, libraries and in home education across North America and many countries around the world, are available to you online as the world’s most comprehensive library of purposely subtitled educational video, accompanied by a variety of online study tools, lesson plans, additional study resources and online testing – using our on-demand subscription system.
    Ah, so this is the same content that was on the CD-ROM they made that integrated with textbooks used in schools!  Makes more sense, now, that the videos are multi-media: video, slides, drawings, photo, etc.  My thought is that on a CD-ROM, the icons clicked over to additional resources -- resources that Zane has made available on their website through the quizzes, lesson plans, and Study Center:

    I think this is a great resource, and I am pleased to see that Zane has so many different subscription options.  I know that (in spite of my kids saying they do not like it) we will use it a lot this year as we study the 20th Century.  I'm sure they will get used to it and I know they will learn from it.

    Please check out what others on the Schoolhouse Review Crew thought of Zane:


    Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Crew, I received a complementary Gold Access 12-month subscription to, at no cost to me, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are mine. 

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