Our kids enjoy anything science related, so they were thrilled when I informed them of our ability to review Rainforest Journey from EdTechLens. The Rainforest Journey is a life science online curriculum. Being a digital product, made things more interactive and lively in our homeschool. Although we were able to work through multiple levels of the Rainforest Journey: first, second and fifth grades; for this review I will focus primarily on our fifth grader’s experience.
After receiving notification of our access to the program we eagerly set up our account. Setting up the classes was simple, as the program is very user friendly. It was nice that all three of the students received their own login, giving them the ability to each work at their own pace.
Although there are several features that are well appreciated about this product, of greatest importance to me is that Bookworm Beauty not only has the ability to work independently, but is able to do so successfully. She has gained much confidence in her ability to work independently over the last year, yet not all programs are as conducive to it as others. EdTechLens was one of the better ones in that aspect. For review purposes she and I went through half of the first unit together and then I gave her the freedom to work entirely by herself.
This product can be set up for classroom settings with multiple students as well as for home users with as little as one student. As the teacher, I have the ability to manage my classes and monitor the progress of each individual student. I can tell how many times they have logged in, what lessons they completed, and their quiz results.
The content was not only rich but also extremely engaging. Bookworm Beauty has shared numerous facts with me over the last several weeks about the rainforest. She has gained an understanding of plant life and a basic overview of the climate and ecosystems of various rainforests. Each lesson includes outstanding photos or video footage of the various plants and animals that are being covered and we were simply amazed at the quality of photography provided in this program.
Although each level has the same basic studies, the content both photos and text at each level is a bit different. Since we had access to three levels, we enjoyed doing some of the lessons simultaneously to go deeper in our studies with each other.
It is always a bonus for me when I get to contact customer support for one reason or another when I am doing a review. Everyone appreciates knowing whether they can count on receiving support in a timely manner. During our review, I contacted support with a few questions about the product and also regarding an issue with my login (which ended up being my error). Both times I received a response in a very short time. They were personable, attentive and resolved my issues.
Area for Improvement
I found only one area in this program that I believe could be improved upon. Each lesson oftentimes consisted of four or more pages of content. This was typically a photo and up to a few very brief paragraphs of information. The content never fit on the screen, meaning that you had to scroll through it and the text was not readily visible. To view the text on each page, you had to click on an hour glass icon to get some brief information and then click on a light bulb icon to get the brief enrichment content. Furthermore, by the time you scrolled down to select the content icons, the photo being referred to was oftentimes no longer visible. After completing the entire page, you then had the option of moving forward to the next passage or back to a previous passage.
This seems silly to complain about, yet it truly felt choppy and was almost a hindrance. By the time you completed a page you have had 4-5 clicks per page (including scrolling). I would have appreciated having the text fully visible, instead of having to click on something to expose it on each and every page. I also would have appreciated having the ability to see more on the screen at one time.
There are multiple purchasing options for this product, depending on the need. Licenses for one grade level are good for one full year. The introductory pricing is as follows: 1 student – $50; 2 to 5 students – $75; up to 35 students – $180; up to 100 students – $300. Keep in mind, these prices are per grade level. To select the best grade level for your students, you can view lesson samples and a video intro on the Rainforest Journey page of their website.
Overall we have been pleased with EdTechLens Rainforest Journey. All three of our students will complete the program in its entirety over the duration of our one-year license. The information is fascinating and they have thoroughly enjoy it.