In our digital world, there is great need for everyone to well versed in how things work. Because this is an area I am not strong in, we were really excited to get to review a course by CompuScholar, Inc. that teaches the fundamentals of basic computer understanding and usage. Digital Savvy is designed to help students gain basic computer skills and to become more adept users of technology.
CompuScholar was founded by people who wanted to help students learn to love technology and to be comfortable using it. Previously known by the name Homeschool Programming, this company has a lot to offer. From basic computer science lessons to learning the professional programming languages, the company is working to make these lessons accessible and interesting to students and educators alike. The mission is to publish computing curriculum for use in all learning environments and their vision is to draw on real world experiences to help prepare students for computing jobs of the future.
Their available courses include:
- Digital Savvy
- Web Design
- Windows Programming
- Java Programming
- Unity Game Programming
- Game Programming With Visual Basic
- Android Programming
Digital Savvy is a course that is designed to teach 6th-12th grade students the basics of information technology. This online course is designed to take up to one year (two-semesters) and reaches both auditory and visual processing learners. Video content is coupled with written text to teach the information in each lesson. The information is the reinforced through a quiz. Each chapter culminates in an application project.
You can find the topics in the course by visiting the CompuScholar website for the Digital Savvy course. Click on course syllabus on the left hand side of the page. This will give you not only the topics but the schedule of study and projects.
The course has 25 chapters. Each chapter has several lessons, a project, and a chapter exam. Within each lesson, there is a lesson video, a lesson text, and a lesson quiz.
The projects vary in what is required. There is often an online submission of the project so that the teacher can grade it.
The instructor side of the program is very well laid out. The instructor will see the same set-up as the student for the chapters and lessons, with the addition of a teacher guide for each lesson and the lesson quiz answer key. The instructor also has an activity solution for the projects. Each project has a rubric to help manage the grading. It took me a bit to find this, though, as it was at the bottom of the page after the teacher has clicked on the submit activity button. But, once I found it, grading the projects was a breeze.
The other main difference between the instructor account and the student account is the Teacher Menu. This is where the grade book is found, as well as tutorials and professional development videos to help with instructing the classes. This menu is also where the instructor manages the students in the class. The grade book is a nice feature that automatically inputs grades from quizzes and graded projects. Percentages are figured for you and it gives you yet another way to see how the students are understanding this course.
What does the student think?
Miss E is just about to turn 13 and is in 7th grade. She has been using the program at the pace of about 2 lessons per week and has completed two and a half chapters. Miss E says:
I do not like watching the video and reading the text but I really feel like need to do both. The text often has things in it that are not covered in the video. I feel like both of these do a good job of explaining the information.
I like the lessons themselves and I actually like the quizzes. The lessons are interesting. Some of it, like a recent lesson, is really interesting, talking about the future of technology. I knew about the self-driving cars but not the self-piloting drones. I like learning new things and these lessons are definitely doing that. I have always been a little bit interested in technology and I like that I am getting to learn that. For the most part, the quizzes are not hard and the questions are fairly simple.
Doing one lesson a week seems kind of slow to me. I think two lessons a week is a good pace. But one lesson a week would allow you to do more research on the subject.
Overall, I am pleased with the course. I wondered about a few things before we began this course so I will share a couple of those with you.
- As a homeschooler, the student does not have to have access to email for this course. If this were used in a different setting, I do believe the student would need that email access for submitting and receiving feedback from the instructor.
- One of the questions that I had before we started this course was “would my student have to actually use social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.)?” The answer is no. The course does a great job of informing the students about HOW to use these sites without actually using them.
- There is actual programming work that will be covered but it seems to be just enough to find out how interested the student might be in learning more.
- There is information covered on how to be safe online and about the digital presence that lingers after a student begins having an online presence.
This is a course I am going to be very glad that Miss E has gotten to use. I will be looking at Miss L taking this course, as well, in a bit. The general computer skills and information technology that is taught about in a methodical way is invaluable.