Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Java Programming with CompuScholar, Inc. -- My REVIEW!

Every year more and more processes become computerized, from the coffee makers that get us going in the morning to the cars that take us all over. How about your phone and those apps that you rely on? Do you shop at the mall these days or enjoy shopping online? It is clear to most people that computer literacy is not just for scientists anymore, but for the general public as well. Do you want to find out what's on tv? Check online. Do you want to know the weather forecast? Check your weather app on your phone. Do you need to provide sign-ups for an upcoming event? Use a google doc. You see where I'm going with this, I'm sure :)

Many homeschooling families find it obviously necessary and responsible to make sure that their students become computer literate early in school life, with increasing computer learning opportunities as their children grow.  CompuScholar, Inc. is a great resource to allow families to easily have their children learn these necessary skills as well as computer skills that may be beyond the computer comfort level of the parents/homeschool teachers, for instance the Java Programming course that we are blessed to be using for this review!

My 11th grade daughter was excited to participate with me in this review--she has a big interest in computer science and programming and has had a bit of learning/doing experience before the class began.  I, on the other hand, am more a life-sciences person--my last computer programming learning was probably in 1994 with Fortran :)  I logged in to the Java course as teacher, and my daughter logged in as the student, and we were ready to go!

Let me tell you first of all about the teacher side of things, and then I'll let my daughter tell you about the student side!

Upon logging in, the teacher encounters a screen which lists special options on the left such as

Teacher Menu

and then on the right it lists chapter by chapter, with clickable links which will take you to the chapter breakdown of lessons, quizzes, tests, and activities along with a teacher guide which gives background information and helpful tips and activity guide and solution files to assist the teacher with the activities.

From the student side of things, upon logging in, the student accesses the chapters which are broken down into different lessons (between 3 and 5), accompanied by quizzes, activities, and tests.  The student learns through watching videos and reading text and taking notes on the material.  The quizzes and tests evaluate their learning, and the activities give them the chance to put the learning into practical usage.

So what does the class cover?  The Java Programming course is advertised as, " teaches students all Java skills required on the "AP Computer Science A" exam. "  It starts out with some lessons in basic computer things and helps the student install the eclipse IDE to run their projects in.  Lessons following contain all types of programming things such as data types, string theory, methods, object-oriented programming, and more and more.  If you'd like to see a detailed list of the topics covered, you can view the syllabus (choose the syllabus option from the left hand menu).

The chapter titles show you that the students are learning about the following:  understanding computer programming, getting started with Java, the Eclipse IDE, Data types and variables, working with strings, user input, basic flow control, writing methods, debugging and exceptions, intro to OOP, objects in Java, graphical Java programs, swing input controls, arrays and collections, inheritance and polymorphism, math functions in Java, file access, sorting, searching, recursion, program efficiency, vector and bitmap images, object composition and copying, computer networking, software engineering principles, and AP test prep material.

I wanted this class to be pretty independent for my daughter and it really worked well.  She was able to do the lessons and then take the quizzes and tests, which were graded by the program.  The activities needed teacher grading, but there are rubrics given which help you to grade the activity easily, even if you don't know much about programming.

the grading rubric for one of the activities
The review period for the CompuScholar, Inc.  was six weeks that we had to use the program.  My daughter has completed up through chapter five and moving into chapter six.  There are 27 chapters in the program, each made of 3-5 lessons.  So what do we think about the program?  No question, we certainly like it!  She will continue to work on the Java class until she completes it!  I am sure that the lesson content will increase in difficulty, but I am confident that we will be able to cover it.  CompuScholar, Inc. provides technical support (and they are very fast to respond with helpful advice and information!)

SO -- would I recommend this program?  YES!!!  It is easy to use, for both the student and the teacher!  If you feel like you need more assistance they even offer a teacher-led option which costs a bit more.  This Java Programming course is the most advanced course offered by CompuScholar, Inc., and as such they do recommend some degree of "technical comfort" before beginning.  My daughter has taken some Java before, as well as many different experiences with programming, so she was definitely ready to jump right into this course.

I thought you might like to hear what she has to say about the course:

This course started off with a discussion about computers and how they work, how applications work, etc.  It was nice to have that information right off the bat, but it was a bit frustrating because at the beginning I didn't start learning coding, it was stuff that I already knew.  It took a couple of chapters before I actually began programming in Eclipse, the environment that is used for programming.  We programmed in the command prompt, which was nice as far as learning how it all worked, but it took a while for me to get it to work. 

I really like how they teach everything in chapters, and then lessons.  It's a nice way to split it up.  And they introduce everything in a simple, easy to understand way using examples.  In the activities, they are very clear about what I have to include and what my output should be.  I'm really happy to be able to take this course.  I had previously taken another course on JAVA programming, and I would recommend this one.

CompuScholar, Inc. Java Programming

Now, Java Programming is not the only course that CompuScholar, Inc. publishes.  You can view various options on their website.  The courses range from a more basic class called Digital Savvy to other classes on topics such as web design, C++ programming, game design, and more.  You can also click on the link below to read reviews of several of the different programs!
Digital Savvy, Web Design & Java Programming {CompuScholar,Inc Reviews}

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