Switched-On Schoolhouse: A Midpoint Review

I write the Switched-On Schoolhouse Series twice a month to share our family’s experience using this software based curriculum in our home.

Choosing or changing curriculum for your homeschool can often leave you second guessing on whether you’re making the right choice. 

I truly believe there is no perfect curriculum out there.  Whether it be in the public school, private school or the choices you have for homeschooling.

That’s why it’s best to gather as much information as you can, and know how your children learn, before diving into a purchase you might not be happy with.  This is one of the reasons why Alpha Omega Publishing, has enlisted some homeschool bloggers to talk about their experiences with the curriculums they produce.  Not just from one post or review, but over a course of many months of using it.

We’re half way through our school year here in our home, and now that we’ve been using Switched-On Schoolhouse for five months, I thought I’d share a post on a couple of things that I think could use improvement in the program. 

To be quite honest with you, there has been very little we have found that we haven’t been able to ‘work around’ so to speak.  Yes there have been some bugs, and some frustrations with using it, but nothing that has us throwing our laptop off the balcony.

One thing that has cropped up in a couple of lessons is pictures covering the text, making the text unreadable.  Annoying…yes…unusable…no.  Sometimes the text has an audio track along with it.  So that’s what we try first.  Simply right click on the text, select audio, and the text gets read to you.  Not necessarily the best solution but it works.  Other times audio isn’t an option, so we’ve highlighted and copied the section, and pasted it into a notepad program and we’re good to go.  Again it’s something you’d expect to not encounter in a software program, but with a work around you can get through your lesson.

A frustration to Amber while doing her lessons, has been the fill in the blank questions, or straight answer questions.  Remember, Switched-On Schoolhouse is a computer program.  It is finite, and can only have so much programmed into it.  Therefore, it looks for specific words or phrases for some answers. 

Example:  What kind of dog did Joe have?

Now the student answers  Sheepdog, or perhaps Sheep Dog. 

And the program might mark their answer incorrect, because it was looking for Sheep-Dog.

We’ve worked around that issue with the messaging system built into the software.  When Amber answers a question, she feels she had the correct answer for, but Switched-On Schoolhouse marks it wrong, she sends me a message on that problem letting me know what she answered.  When I go into my portion of the software to grade, I can view the problem, her message, and the correct answer and change the grade accordingly if I feel that she answered correctly given the information she had.

For the student, it is an extra measure of work to have to send a message to the teacher.  However, the computer is not a person, so it can’t decide whether the student understood the question with what they answered, they can only mark it right or wrong with the data in the program.  That’s the one part where a computer grading system lacks.

Really in the time we’ve used it, those are the only two things at the moment that I can say have frustrated us with the Switched-On Schoolhouse software.  I’m hoping we can get through the next few months without any others!

If you’re interested in learning more about Switched-On Schoolhouse or would like a discount on a purchase of curriculum, click through on the button in my right hand sidebar, and you’ll be taken to the publisher’s site.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received the products mentioned above for free for review purposes from Alpha and Omega Publishing. I was not required to write a positive review and this product may not have the same results for all people, please do additional research of your own when purchasing products mentioned in reviews. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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