Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Review of Virtual Nerd

If you're anything like me, teaching history and english to your homeschoolers comes fairly easily to you, but once past the elementary school years, math and science become a bit scary and mysterious.  If you're nothing like me, then congratulations, and how I envy you! For the math and science-wary, however, may I introduce you to Virtual Nerd, online math and science tutorials sure to ease the way when teaching upper-level math and science courses.  I was given a temporary subscription to Virtual Nerd in exchange for my review.

Virtual Nerd is a website comprised of short tutorial videos in the subjects of Pre-Algebra, Algebra I, Algebra II, and Intro to Physics.  Using a dynamic version of Whiteboard, an engaging tutor will walk your student through various concepts in each of these subjects.  The videos range in length, but many of them are only a couple of minutes long.  The videos' brevity means that when your child has a specific question about a concept, she can seek out just that answer, rather than sitting through an entire chapter's worth of material to learn.  You have the option of keyword searching within your course, or of successively narrowing down by topic until you can literally have your precise question answered with a clear example, and within a couple of minutes.

For example, my daughter was doing her Pre-Algebra homework when she came across a problem involving polynomials.  She knew the term, but forgot how to perform the requested operation (addition).  Going to Virtual Nerd, she looked at the Pre-Algebra topics and chose polynomials and non-linear functions.  From there she selected adding and subtracting polynomials.  Her final choice, adding polynomials, pulled up three short tutorials.  The ability to find exactly what you want (or need!) to learn is a huge advantage of Virtual Nerd.  With other math video tutorial websites, you frequently have to watch a chapter's worth of material, even if you only need clarification on the meaning of one term.

For students in Algebra I who use one of four standard public school textbooks, searching is even easier, since Virtual Nerd is aligned by chapter and lesson to these four texts! Were I the parent of a student who used one of these texts, I would be very excited about this website, and more than happy to pay the associated costs (see below), given that they cost far less than a live tutor (and you can replay the videos as often as you need to to understand a concept!).

Virtual Nerd's pricing is straightforward.  When you purchase a subscription, you are buying access to the whole site, and not just to one course, so the prices below include all of the courses presently offered by Virtual Nerd.  (Chemistry, Pre-Calculus, and Calculus are currently planned for 2011-2012).  As you can see, a free two-hour trial is offered, and that would be a great way to decide if Virtual Nerd is right for your student.

If you'd like to find out more about Virtual Nerd, visit their website where you can find FAQs, more detailed information for students, parents, and educators, and the most comprehensive contact form I have ever seen!

If you'd like to find out what other members of the Crew had to say, find out here.

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