Wednesday, July 24, 2013

TOS CREW Review- KidCoder-Web Design

Do you have computer geeks at your house?  We have several.  OK, all but probably me.  And it isn't that I am not interested, it's just that it all loses me fast.  I end up frustrated.  But since I am trying to keep up with the family, and because I have a blog and I would like to know how to work it without my 15 year-old daughter's help, when I saw the opportunity to review a web design program, I jumped at it! 

 Homeschool Programming, Inc.  has just released a brand new course this May - KidCoder Series, Beginning Web Design.  The advanced portion is scheduled to be done in August.  Each portion is designed to take about a semester to complete but will vary some depending on how quickly your child catches on to the concepts.  KidCoder Web Series, designed for kids 4th - 12th grade, is a HTML based program designed to teach you what HTML means exactly, how to read it, and how to use it to design your very own web pages.  Beginning Web Design is a 233 page manual filled with 13 chapters of information and activities to help get you started.

 photo KC_BWD_Cover_MED_zps2e139921.jpgTopics included are -

  • Mark-up concepts
  • Website layouts and files
  • Backing up projects
  • Essential HTML symbols
  • Styling of text
  • Using symbols and lists
  • Internal and external hyperlinks
  • Navigation bars and footers
  • Simple CSS effects
  • Spacing and positioning
  • Graphics and image editing
  • Tables

We received the material in download form, but when you purchase it for $70.00 you will get the printed manual.  The printed material and the instructional video will be available soon for $85.00.  These videos are not meant to replace the manual, but to enhance it with verbal instructions and more step by step pictures.

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The course begins by telling you a brief history of computers and the World Wide Web and an introduction to web browsers.  From there it begins to teach you how to build a web design, with each chapter teaching you a new concept and then challenging you to use the information you have just been taught to add another layer to your own web page.  Sections called "Your Turn" lets you practice what you learned, while sections labeled "Work With Me" give you step by step instructions to apply to your web page project.  They use the subject of Raptors (birds of prey) to get you started.  Every chapter ends with a chapter review and there are chapter tests of 10 questions each you can print out as well. 

So...How did we use this product?

Ironically, my 19 year old has gotten the most use out of this program so far.  As a matter of fact, she has really enjoyed working with it!  As chance would have it, she is scheduled to take a web design course this upcoming semester and so we thought this would be a fun way to get her feet wet and give us a project to go through together.  Honestly, she latched on to the information more quickly and took off on her own.  No surprise there, right?  We have been impressed with the thoroughness of the course so far, we are up to chapter 8, and will continue on. We are already looking forward to the release of the advanced portion.

While she has had no trouble using the written manual alone, I found I comprehended much better when watching the optional instructional videos.  An example of learning styles at its best!  If you have an auditory learner or one who learns better by watching someone else do things first, I HIGHLY recommend you add those to your cart!   They are slightly animated, but well done with a woman's voice that is very easy to hear and follow.  Each video lesson is fairly short and will not add too much time to your child's lesson for the day.

We read each chapter first, then watched the video which helped me in clearing up any fog I had on what was taught.  Then we would proceed to the computer and test our skills by creating our own web page.  Below you will see an example of the page that we started and the coding it took, on the right, to get that page. 

One of the things we found that was invaluable was that within the info you get to download onto your computer, there is a place that you can copy and paste the codes they tell you to use.  It may seem simple enough to type in yourself from the instructions, but trust me, with all those little symbols and letters, one mistake will mess you up!  I can imagine for younger students this would be especially true.  No reason to test their typing skills now...just let them cut and paste for ease.

A quick thought on the age range.  4th through 12th grade is a pretty big span.  I am pretty sure my rising 6th grader could do this with a lot of guidance - but not by himself.  The chapter reading alone is pretty hefty.  If I was sitting in your living room giving you my personal recommendation, I would say save it for your highschooler.  Though the subject of Raptors that they use to create the project page may bore them a little, the lesson is about programming, not raptors - they will get over it.  That being said, I know kids these day are more up on computers than I am, so know your child.  If they are geniuses at computers, get them started right away.  My hope is that my 15 your-old will be able to use this program as a high school computer class this fall and that my son will follow suit soon thereafter.

If you are looking for a web design class for your kids, this is a great one for the price and one I do not think you will disappointed with!

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  1. I know how you feel, I know so little about computers these days since I'm not working on them at work. Things change so much, I'm sure in a couple of years my children will be teaching me instead of me teaching them! Thank you for explaining the age range, that will help many make the right choice on purchasing this product.

    1. Hope it helped, Crystal. Each child is different, but I do think the younger ages will need some help.

  2. Hi - I am a new follower and think I will really enjoy your blog. I am not a homeschooler but do enjoy and agree with your Christian perspective. Thanks for your blog!

  3. Wonderful review. This looks very interesting and fun!

  4. This sounds very interesting. I may need to look in to it more for myself and my blog. Thank you!

  5. We used the TeenCoder and my rising 9th grader had a very hard time with it. From what you're saying, maybe the KidCoder would have been a better choice for her with little programming experience.

  6. Looks like its fun and detailed! I have no computer geeks in my house yet, but I know its coming with age!!


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