Internet use and programming by homeschool students can sometimes be a touchy subject. There are those parents that feel that this is the reality of our kids future and we need to equip them on the technology front as much as we do in teaching them to read and do basic math. Other families are concerned about the content on the internet and make the decision to limit access to the internet. This review is meant to shed light on one particular curriculum that a homeschool family may choose to use if they have already made the decision to allow and promote technology use and expertise with their children. The curriculum was reviewed is the Kidcoder Web Design Series by Homeschool Programming.
What We Received:
We received a digital download of the Beginning Web Design curriculum. This included a 234 page student textbook, which was easily opened using Adobe Reader. Also contained in the download was a software application where the students build their projects and actually do the work for the activities in each lesson. The really neat part of this curriculum is that it is all contained on your computer and does not require your child to be on the internet. The application is very user friendly. There is a second application module that contains all of the solutions to each activity and project in the course. This allows the parent to grade the child’s work and also to provide direction if they run into difficulties. There is no need for the parent to be familiar with web design at all in order for their child to successfully complete this course.
This course was created with students in grades 4-12 in mind. The cost of the curriculum is $70. Allow me to share more so that you can see the value in this course.
The Kidcoder Beginning Web Design currriculum is designed to be a one semester course.
How We Used It:
It isn’t necessary, but our family chose to print off the student textbook. It is lengthy, but I felt it would be much easier to follow along with while working in the module than trying to switch between windows. Even though I write this blog, I am not well versed in HTML coding so I decided to work ahead of our son and then allow him to start the course a bit later. We used the curriculum as I believe that it was intended to be used. The student textbook became our guide and then we used the software application to complete the activities and projects as they were assigned in the textbook. As we completed an assignment, I was able to open up the solutions module and check both the final appearance of the page as well as the code behind the scenes.
It brought me back to the days when I taught college students how to use Microsoft Excel. Many would do the calculations on a calculator and then just type in the number. This defeated the point in using Excel and its functionality. Checking the code insures that the HTML is really being used and used correctly. After all, isn’t that the point of the course.
During our time in using the curriculum, we learned an array of skills:
- The Basics of what the internet is and how it works
- An Introduction to HTML programming
- How to set up a homepage
- How to set up subpages and building the links to these on the homepage where the user just clicks on the highlighted name and is transported to the page
- How to build links to external sites of interest
- How to create a header
- The power of using graphics, formatting, and color to make your site “pop” with interest.
What We Think After Using It:
Kidcoder Beginner Web Design is definitely a very meaty course. It provides real life skill and not just a watered down simulation. The student textbook provides an abundance of knowledge beyond just cookbook style directions to complete the projects. However, the hands-on experience in working in the software modules can not be replaced.
The instructions were clear and the student textbook was definitely written to the student. The material is presented in a way that is interesting and not too dry. In addition, we really like that with each new chapter we kept expanding on what we had already built to make it better and better.
There are tests available for each chapter. These tests are generally ten multiple choice questions that relate more to the theory and concepts of web design rather than the how to. Each parent would need to make the decision about their driving purpose in completing the course and then determine whether to give the tests or just count the completed the projects.
My intention was to have our son who is entering 4th grade work on this curriculum with me based on the suggested age range. Honestly, it was a little bit more than what he could handle. Let this not take away from the value of the curriculum in your eyes. This is a solid beginning web design program. After having used it, we are now discussing whether our 15 year old daughter would benefit more from it. She works closely with my husband on the farm and is acquiring her own animals that she is now breeding and growing into her own business. It is my belief that she will be able to very professionally present herself by developing a website for her business based on the content of KidCoder Web Design Series. As a matter of fact, I will be recommending this curriculum to adult small business owners who wish to develop their web presence as well. We are anxiously awaiting the release of KidCoder Advanced Web Design in August 2013.
This has been our experience. I encourage you to check out what others are saying after they have had a chance to work with the curriculum as well.