For my latest review with the TOS crew, I was given the opportunity to try out Virtual Nerd’s website. This is a site offering video tutorials in higher math and science. My 7th grade son tried out the Pre Algebra videos. We have sampled a few different online math programs so far, and the videos for this one are the ones he liked the best.
First, the people that appear in the videos are upbeat and dynamic and very easy to listen to, which is important to my son, who gets bored quite easily. The videos also feature what they call a “dynamic whiteboard”. As the instructor works the problem on the board, there are two sidebars that appear on the right side of the screen. The first is the “diagram”, which typically gives a definition of what you are watching, as well as a copy of the problem being worked out by the instructor. If you move your mouse over this section of the screen, you will get a definition for each section of the problem (i.e. if the screen says a(b+c)=ab+ac, and your mouse is over the letters, you will get a definition of what a variable is).
The second sidebar is a step by step example and explanation of the problem. You can also move your mouse over a specific step and get more information just on that step! These are some of the most thorough and clear explanations of math that I have seen so far, and for my struggling math student, they made concepts very clear and easy to understand!
Virtual Nerd currently offers math tutorials covering Pre-Algebra to Algebra 2, with plans to include Geometry, Pre-Calculus, and Calculus later this year. In science, Conceptual Physics is currently available, with plans to release Physics w/trig and Chemistry soon. The site does not include worksheets or assignments, but this was better for me, as I already have a math program (CLE Math 7) and just needed some clear explanations my son could access when he needed additional support. According to the fact sheet we received with the review, there are plans to include practice problems later, as well as a textbook search function.
For someone like me, who has always been more of a reader than a mathematician, this site is great! Higher math is not my thing, and I know that as my son gets older, I will need to turn to some type of math program that will be able to teach my son what I cannot. I like the fact that you can search for videos on topics of your choice, because that means you could use Virtual Nerd with virtually 🙂 any math program you are currently using. I am not sure if their plans to include a textbook search function will include homeschool textbook publishers, but if it did, it would make it even more wonderful!
The only drawback I see to this program is the price. At $49.00 a month, it is expensive. They do offer free access for educators, but that does not currently include homeschool parents, and there are no homeschool discounts. There are other pricing plans ($5.00 for one day, $19.00 for a week, and $129.00 for 3 months) but even these are expensive. Buying a DVD math program from one of the major homeschool publishers is around $399.00 per year, which is about the same thing that Virtual Nerd would cost you, but Virtual Nerd does not include textbooks. Personally, I would love to continue using this website for the remainder of the year, but I just can’t afford it. In a time when every penny counts, this may be one of those things you just can’t do. However, if you can afford it, I would highly recommend Virtual Nerd. The quality of the instruction, and the extras that come with their dynamic whiteboard are very impressive.
You can check out their website here: