Review: EdTechLens Rainforest Journey
March 18, 2016
Our most recent Schoolhouse
Review Crew opportunity was to check out EdTechLens
program. With three children
in various grade levels, I am always interested in trying out digital options
that might give me the opportunity to have each child engaged, even if I need
to be providing one-on-one support to another child. Our science coop is
studying animals this year, so I thought that the Rainforest Journey would be a
great way for my second grader, especially, to dive deeper into learning about
animals. We also received the 4th grade version, but my son wasn’t interested at all- he thought that it was “too young” for him, and so we focused on 2nd grade.
She’s really enjoyed exploring the different families and
species this year, and the Rainforest has some of the coolest animals on the
planet, in my humble opinion.
Rainforest Journey comes with a teacher account
and a student account, and we initially had a little bit of trouble figuring
out how to navigate to the student account and I actually had to email tech
support for assistance, but they were incredibly friendly and taught me the
trick- which was to sign completely out of the teacher version and use the
assigned student ID (which was not the ID I gave my child, but a randomly
assigned name) and password. This fixed the problem and we were able to
log in successfully.
The pictures and videos are really vibrant and
engaging. Each lesson is divided into very manageable pieces that took my
second grader, Savannah, about 8 minutes to get through. The course is
divided up into 5 units, and each unit is then divided into chapters and each
chapter into lessons. Generally, the lessons start with a picture
followed by some information, generally 1-2 sentences, which you can opt to
have read to you by clicking on an audio button. At the end of each
lesson, there is the option to print out an enrichment activity.
I like that the program
tracks your child’s progress for you, so you know where they’re at. I
feel like there could be more information provided, especially since there is
the capacity for embedded video, so even readers that lack confidence could
enjoy more information without struggling. The amount of information is
really just a tidbit.
We think that Rainforest
Journey has a lot of potential. It’s definitely not a “use
alone” course that my second grader could do without me because it
requires a lot of clicking and scrolling. On page one of the lesson, you
have to click up to 6 times to get through the lesson, if you want the
sentences read to you, and many of the “pages” end up being several screens. Also, the enrichment activity isn’t on the computer,
which I think would be nicer. If I’m
going to use an online program, I would really like it to be an online program,
not something that I have to prep for by printing and gathering materials.
At the same time, my daughter has really enjoyed
the pictures and will ask to do “that science on the computer” when
we have time in the afternoons. I like that they included primary sources
and scientists, and I love the idea of Rainforest Journey as a supplement, but I
would invest in it after it’s made a little more user-friendly and requires far
less clicking and includes a little more information.