Online Maths Courses: Maths Online

Online maths courses are an alternative to the traditional text book approach and we have sampled a few in our years of homeschooling. Maybe you’d like to share my thoughts on the ones we’ve experienced…
I‘ll start with Maths Online
A couple of years ago, I signed up Imogen and Charlotte for Maths Online. At the time, Imogen wanted to complete the Advanced HSC maths course in case she needed it as a prerequisite for a university degree course. Using Maths Online seemed a good way of achieving this goal.
The year my girls used the course, Maths Online only covered the maths curriculum for years 7-12. Now it covers the complete K-12 curriculum for Australian schools.
From the Maths Online website:

A big problem with classroom maths teaching is that you can’t stop and rewind the teacher when you lose your way.
OK, you can put your hand up and ask a question. But how many kids are too shy to do this? Or embarrassed about interrupting the whole class?
What if you could get the teacher to go over things again? And in a friendly and easy to understand way?
Well finally… you can.

We haven’t seen the new and updated site, but I can share what we experienced when the course catered only for the high school years.
So how does Maths Online work?
Each concept is taught using a video lesson which can, of course, be played over and over again. A one page summary of the lesson can be printed off. There is a worksheet to fill in. I think an interactive online worksheet might now be available too. After the answers are submitted, printable fully worked solutions become available. Each lesson is marked and graded, and the results stored in a student’s profile.
The good points…
We found this course a better choice than the text book approach. The worked solutions are helpful. It is easy to see which parts of the maths curriculum a student has completed, and what progress is being made. Areas of difficulty are easy to identify. The different strands of maths can be attempted in any order. A child can access lessons from any year. They can work at their own pace. Lessons can be repeated as many times as needed. Motivation to work is provided by an award system. There are certificates to print off. And if a child likes using the computer, rather than a book, this might be a further attraction. Some children may learn better using a system that involves both seeing and hearing. 
What we didn’t like...
Several times my girls got stuck on a concept and it didn’t matter how many times we watched a video, they just couldn’t progress because they didn’t understand the explanation. I ended up looking for further resources to help them. One of these resources was a tutor. With the tutor’s help, Imogen did complete the Advanced HSC maths course using Maths Online. I don’t suppose children working through the lower years’ lessons would encounter such difficulties.
But the biggest problem we found was that much of the higher maths seemed irrelevant. I heard the words,“When are we ever going to use this maths, Mum?” quite a few times. This is not, however, a problem of the course but of the whole traditional approach to teaching maths.
The girls worked their way through all the steps of each lesson and were able to produce the correct answers which they found very satisfying, and encouraged their thinking skills. However, concepts learnt this way are not always retained.  I suspect Imogen has already forgotten a lot of the higher maths she learnt using Maths Online. My older children, who used maths text books, probably have the same problem.
So would I recommend Maths Online?
Yes, if traditional maths courses fit in with your philosophy of education. The online course is much more attractive and effective than the text book approach. The structured course and progress reports make it very easy to satisfy the homeschooling requirements of content and record keeping. I am sure Maths Online has many satisfied customers. 
Would we use Maths Online again?
No… not unless one of our older children needs to complete the whole of the HSC course as a prerequisite for university learning. I don’t think I would consider it for the younger girls because, at this stage, I am not using structured curriculum with them. I am looking for a better way!
What if you like the sound of Maths Online?
If you’d like to know more about Maths Online, you can watch an online demo or try it out for free. If you like what you see, you can purchase a membership. There are various plans, but the best value one is the family plan: 12 months for $297
Feel free to share your thoughts about Maths Online. I know it works very well for some families.
Another online maths course another time!
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