Monday, July 30, 2012

TOS Review: Zane Education


The idea behind Zane Education is that children learn and retain more from videos when there are subtitles or close captioning along with the video.  I was interested in this idea, as I know that when I am watching a movie but find I'm being distracted for some reason - sound quality, noise in the room, etc. - I find that turning on the captions helps me pay attention.

I was disappointed with Zane, however.  I found the videos to be dry, much like the filmstrips and educational videos I remember watching in school, and the picture quality is not any better.  In fact, the narration even sounded the same.  I found myself wondering if they had simply put captions to a warehouse of old videos from the 70s and 80s.  The kids said they were boring - and my son is one who prefers to learn through video!  I generally have no problem getting him to watch historical documentaries - but he only watched the Zane videos when I made him.  

The videos are shown in a very small box on the computer screen, and there seems to be no way to enlarge it.  At least a few of the videos we watched had issues with the captioning moving on before the narration - which defeats the purpose, in my opinion.  

That said, I did like that there was a quiz to go with each video, as well as links to a glossary, dictionary, encyclopedia, and thesaurus to the right of the video.  If a student wants to know the meaning of a word and can't figure it out from the video, they can pause it and click on those links.  

Zane Education also covers a wide range of topics - there are videos to reinforce most subjects a homeschooler might cover.  Art, biology, geography, health, history, library skills, literature, math, music, religion, science, and social studies are all there.  However, I found it disappointing that "health" seems to equate to "sex ed" and nothing else.  I also found the religion category very lacking, though I did appreciate the informative videos on other major world religions.  The videos are geared toward jr. high and up, though the website states that a few of the categories are appropriate for children as young as 6.  In my opinion, a child would have to be a very advanced reader at 6 years old for the whole idea of the captioning to be effective.  Otherwise, they will probably get frustrated by not being able to keep up with the words.  Also, I would only use these videos to reinforce what my children are learning, though the website suggests that they could be used on their own, as a homeschooler's only curriculum.

Online memberships to Zane Education vary in price, depending on level of access.  You may choose to only access the videos for a certain age or subject, or you can choose to access all of them.  Memberships are available per month or for 12 months.  Monthly memberships start at $5, and yearly memberships start at $98.89.


***Disclaimer:  I was given a membership to Zane Education in exchange for my review through the Schoolhouse Review Crew.  All opinions are my own.  

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