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Visual Learning Systems {Digital Science Online}

3/10/2015
Visual Learning Systems Review
We have been reviewing Visual Learning Systems in our home school as a science enrichment for unit studies and everyday learning. Digital Science Online: Elementary Edition (Grades K-5) replaced Malachi's science for the first two weeks of the review, and then we used it as a supplement to his regular science curriculum.


Visual Learning Systems Review

We've also been using resources from the Digital Science Online: Secondary Edition (Grades 6-12), as we received a subscription to both levels for a full year. It's been nice to have a collection of video resources to draw from to supplement our learning, and I'd love to share how we've been using it and what we think of it!

What is Visual Learning Systems?

Visual Learning Systems is an educational science publisher that offers videos, interactive graphics, animations, and images to teach science.

Visual Learning Systems Review

Three Grade Level choices are available:
  • Primary ~ physical, earth, life, and integrated science
  • Elementary ~ physical, earth, and life science
  • Middle/High School ~ physical, earth, life, and integrated science, health and biology

When you log in, there are a variety of units to choose from in each category. For example, just under the category of physical science, topics include: atoms, bonding, compounds in chemistry, current electricity, electromagnetism, elements, compounds, and mixtures, energy, force, Newton's laws, magnetism, motion, reactions, simple machines, solids, liquids, gases, sound, and more.

Each subject has a variety of topics, but you can also use the search bar to find topics of interest. Since once of the topics in a recent unit study involved healthy eating choices, I searched for nutrition, and was happy to see a unit on Healthy Eating Habits!

Each unit offers:
  • videos

  • animations

  • images

  • Teachers Guides


Teachers Guides offer:
  • guide to introducing the video
  • student activities - printable worksheets and activities 
  • learning objectives
  • video script
Malachi used this 4 times a week independently, and I used it with the children for unit studies 1-2 times a week. We watched the videos one day and did some of the worksheets orally. Then planned a hands on activity for our next science day.

Using Visual Learning Systems for unit studies:

We used the Healthy Eating Habits health lesson above for a literature based unit study and it was perfect. I loved that I found a topic that tied into our study so easily. We did just the one unit, but could have easily expanded our lessons to dig deeper in the subject of Nutrition. I love the potential!

Shopping for healthy foods

Topics covered in this lesson:
  • eating a well balanced and healthy diet
  • reading labels
  • meal planning
  • shopping for healthy foods
  • preparing healthy meals
  • handling food safely
  • plan a healthy meal
See more of what we did in our literature based unit study on Mailing May.

We used the health lesson from the Middle/High School level and felt the video was appropriate for my 2nd and 4th grade students. The worksheets push it to an upper elementary/middle school level, but I didn't feel it was high school level material. We like the videos, but they seem a little outdated. Some images are not visually appealing and seem outdated as well, but they work for its intended purpose. Also, I did not like that the videos played automatically. It was frustrating to still be searching for a topic and have a video start playing. I do like that you have a choice to play all the videos at once or play one section at a time, so letting us push play would be nice. That all said, the content was perfect and just what I needed!

Next, for another literature based unit study, we did the lesson on Exploring Desert Biomes and watched videos from the Elementary and the Middle School/High School life science levels. The upper level included a little more information, including a video segment on cold deserts - the Tundra, otherwise the information was similar. When we explored the animations and images for the upper level lesson, we found that they were all from the main video lesson. We did enjoy the challenge of the video quiz at the end of the video, but would have liked to have seen the answers included at the end. We checked our answers when we watched the Elementary video and it was a nice review.

Topics covered in this lesson:
  • Introduction
  • Geography of Deserts
  • Desert Climate
  • Desert Soils
  • Desert Plants
  • Desert Animals
  • Desert Reptiles and Invertebrates
  • Tundra
  • Tundra Plants and Animals
  • Summing Up
  • Video Quiz

From the Teacher's Guide section, I printed a Geography of Deserts activity for the kids to shade and label the deserts of the world.

Using Visual Learning Systems as a supplement:

Malachi's current science program will often require him to research a topic further and the videos provide a fun resource to do this.

I also had him choose videos to offer a visual learning resource to what he is studying. He is currently learning about natural resources, so I had him watch the videos on Earth's Natural Resources from the Secondary Edition resources.

Topics covered in this lesson:
  • What are Natural Resources?
  • Renewable Resources
  • Nonrenewable Resources
  • Recycling and Renewing Nonrenewable Resources
  • Natural Resource Alternatives
  • Sustainability and Natural Resources
I thought it was a nice tie-in and he likes watching the videos. In fact, he has taken more of an interest in documentaries since we started Visual Learning Systems.

Whether we are using Visual Learning Systems for unit studies or to compliment our regular science curriculum, we have enjoyed having the visual resources to supplement our learning.

Malachi says, "Visual Learning Systems is really fun because it's easy and quick and I like watching videos about science. My favorite unit was on distant planets and Healthy Eating Habits."

I think Visual Learning Systems is great for visual and audio learners, self-directed learners, for unit studies, or for a visual supplement to any science curriculum.

See Tutorials and Demo Samples to learn more. For more reviews, see what my Crew mates think!

Crew Disclaimer

2 comments:

Latonya Mo said...

I enjoyed your review.

Lisa M. (aka. Lisa @ Farm Fresh) said...

I was happy to see you linked up just 2 after me! LOL! I am just not in a rush to link up this go around. Way too busy! I will get better once things level out and I get in the swing of things.

Loved your review. I was so happy to find that all the answers to all the worksheets were in the Teachers Guide! I like answer keys! LOL.

I agree about the videos. They brought me back to the snooze worthy videos I watched back in the 80's in school. But the boys didn't care and since they were the ones watching...well I guess it's fine.

We will keep using it for Science right now since it's good for a year and they like it and it works into our schedule easily. We were just getting bogged down with Apologia this winter. I will probably work it so we do both at some point. Maybe.

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