Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Crew Review: Standard Deviants Accelerate Online Courses

Standard Deviants Accelerate Review
As members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, our family was able to review Standard Deviants Accelerate and their online Homeschool Courses.  Years ago, we had reviewed a Chemistry DVD from Standard Deviants, but I hadn't realized they had developed online courses since then. For this review, we received one year's access to all their homeschool courses.

The SDA Homeschool Courses are primarily for junior and senior high, but they do offer some math courses that can be used in upper elementary ages. Their Arithmetic course is for 3rd grade and above. The Fundamental Math course begins with 4th grade. Sixth graders and up can study Earth Science and Nutrition. Biology and Algebra begin with 7th grade students. Chemistry, English Composition and U.S. History are for all high school grades. There are also four AP courses for 11th and 12th graders: AP Biology, AP Chemistry, AP U. S. Gov. & Politics, and AP English Composition.

Standard Deviants Accelerate Review

Standard Deviants Accelerate presents the information in their courses using lectures by young adults, and humorous skits. In the courses we previewed, the lesson was divided up into segments, or paragraphs, alternating between teens and young adults with each new section. The constant change helps to keep focus. The people pictured below may be the characters in the skits, but the presenters for the material are much younger than them.

Standard Deviants Accelerate Review

You can get a sense of how the material is explained by going to the Cerebellum Corp. Standard Deviants Accelerate youtube channel to view some of their videos. You can view a few sample lessons, videos demonstrating teacher accounts and student accounts, as well as trailers for individual courses. You can view the trailer for Earth Science in this video.

When a student logs in, they are taken to a dashboard of all the classes they have been enrolled in. They can click on their selected course, then click on the lesson they need to view. While they view the video, they can read along on a transcript at the left side, and take notes in a text box underneath the video. Those notes can be saved to their "locker" or printed out. In most lessons, there will then be a vocabulary tab to click on and review, a diagram worksheet they can complete for review, and a short quiz to take online. There are also written answer questions that can be used for short essay tests.

After a few lessons on a topic, there is a chapter review. In the chapter review, the student is given an assignment to prepare a short lesson plan as if they were teaching to a specific audience, like cavemen or poets. This is to be presented to their teacher ... you, the homeschool parent. There is a post-test and a critical thinking question.
Standard Deviants Accelerate Review
We didn't pick a course and start at the beginning. We viewed certain topics as they arose in our regular curriculum. Because of that, we weren't able to use the progress report very well. The quiz and diagrams are computer-graded, but the written answers need to be graded by the parent, using their provided rubric. We primarily used the videos (especially the algebra and biology videos) to explain what we were learning in a visual manner.

I will say that I'm a bit at a loss for how to characterize SDA Homeschool Courses. For some courses, like US History it really must be supplemental. There isn't enough material covered for a full year's credit, in my opinion. In Algebra there are more lessons, but not any practice work to help the material stick. There is a quiz to be sure you've viewed the video and understand it, but no problems to solve. I suppose supplemental curriculum is the best category for it. You could use some of the courses, like Biology or English Composition, and beef them up to make a full credit out of them, but it would take some effort.

We have enjoyed the SDA Homeschool Courses so far. We found the Biology and Algebra videos to be especially beneficial. If you have a visual or auditory learner, or a student that learns better through viewing movies than reading, SDA is a great option for them!

It should be noted that SDA is a secular company. For us, this is primarily an issue when viewing the Biology videos, but we handle that via discussion. Our kids have heard about evolution, as well as our views on it, most of their lives. We aren't trying to hide the theory from them, but want to help them understand it, and the weaknesses we see in it.

Unlike many online curriculums, the SDA Homeschool Courses are sold by courses, not students. Each course is paid for by the month, and can have multiple students enrolled in it. In theory, if you deem a course to have enough material for a full credit, you can push and complete it in 3 months and only pay for 3 months. Or you can enroll two high school students in the same course, and have them take Biology or Chemistry at the same time. Both these methods help reduce the overall cost of the courses. You can find information for homeschool parents and details about their pricing at the SDA website.

Don't forget! You can follow Standard Deviants Accelerate on social media:
April E.

Standard Deviants Accelerate Review

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