Thursday, March 17, 2016

Rainforest Journey ~ A Review

eLearning for Homeschool Rainforest Journey Unit Study

Over the past few weeks we've been reviewing Rainforest Journey, a fun online science program from EdTechLens as part of my 2nd grader's school day.

We were provided with a one year subscription to Rainforest Journey in order to write this review.

What is Rainforest Journey

Rainforest Journey is the the first interactive digital learning program released by EdTechLens. This product is aimed at children in grades K - 5. The thoughts behind it is to deliver an aesthetically pleasing program that you would normally only see delivered in the higher education levels but for the elementary aged child. The concept is that of a photo book, filled with video clips, photographs and audio that the children can easily interact with. Each level covers the same concepts, however they increase in complexity as the grade level increases.

First Impressions

The EdTechLens website is bright and fresh with stunning photographic images on the home screen. These create a sense of what is to come for the user and you know already from the home page that a great deal of passion has been put into this site.

The site is laid out in an easy to navigate fashion, with all of the regular links  across the top that one would expect to see within a website such as this. After clicking on the programs link you can read in more detail all about Rainforest Journey, including access to a few free sample lessons across the various grade levels. Be sure to watch the introductory video found on the bottom of that page.

 photo Rainforest Journey Ipad-Graphic-HR-play-button_zps7ly6jnpn.jpg

How We Used Rainforest Journey

We used Rainforest Journey exactly as detailed within the program. At this stage we haven't added any extra's as for us right now this is a nice little bonus learning opportunity.

My son logs in using the user name supplied to him by EdTechLens and he is taken directly to the first lesson. From then each time he logs in the first screen he sees is exactly where he is up to in the program.

There is a course outline link to the left where you can move back to review complete lessons and see what is coming up.

The lessons in the grade 2 level include a couple of stunning photograph's of either the rainforest itself or of some of the animals found within a rainforest. From time to time there are also short videos to watch.

With each image there is a small snippet of information that can either be read or the option to hear the details being read aloud is also there right on the screen.

There is a brief enrichment section, which contains just that little bit extra information about the topic being discussed right there alongside the lesson too.

So far we have looked at all the layers of the rainforest, some of the many animals that reside within those layers and various types of rainforests

At the end of each lesson there is a printable PDF of review materials. For the grade 2 option he has been asked to draw what he is learning about the layers and to describe each layer with several words. This is simple enough for him to complete and does help him to listen closely to the audio as knows he needs to come up with some describing words at the end of the lesson.

Each unit finishes with assessment quizzes. There are 5 units with a total of 34 lessons. Each lesson only takes around 10 - 20 minutes to complete, with end of lesson hands on activities as an extra.

We have also been using the Grade 5 level and it covers the same lesson concepts just at a higher level, with each lesson, being slightly longer and with more reading material. It still includes that audio link though which is a huge plus for me as so many programs remove that option for older children. The Grade 5 level also expects short paragraphs in terms of lesson review output as compared to just a few short words that is required in the Grade 2 level.

What We Didn't Like

At first logging in and getting ourselves all set up with user names for each student was a little confusing, but I contacted EdTechLens straight away and they were more than helpful in getting us all ready to go.

With each lovely photograph there is a piece of information that can either be read or listened to, however the links for the audio aren't aligned right there on the screen, so I found myself scrolling up and down a bit so that we could listen and look at the pictures at the same time. I'd love to see the audio button right there alongside the image.

Being an online program, if like me, you don't have fabulous internet, can make things a little tricky at times. This is just something to be aware with your own situation.

What We Did Like

The stunning large pictures and the audio voice overs is what makes this program so unique. We can listen to the audio and sit and discuss the images included. At times choosing to go and find more information than what is provided.

I really liked that this can be used exactly as is, as an easy supplement to your current science program. Or if you choose it can be fleshed out into one entire year long theme of study, that adds an element of audio visual, video's, photographs and voice overs to the unit.

 photo Rainforest Journey Night-Collage-3-HR_zpsqvliyytz.jpg

Looking Ahead

This has been so easy to add into our week that we will most definitely continue along with the remainder of the Rainforest Journey.

I'm very interested in seeing what other 'journey's' EdTechLens may be working on. This is a great way to add supplemental information to a larger theme that you may be studying.

Details & Pricing

A 1 year license for the Rainforest Journey program for 1 child is $50.

To see more from EdTechLens visit them via your favourite social media outlet.

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I hope you found this review helpful. If you would like to see further reviews of Rainforest Journey from members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, please visit this link.

Happy Homeschooling,

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