Friday, July 16, 2010

Logo_Time4Learning My 3 year old thinks that all I do at work is having lunches with my coworkers and going for coffee with Cat. But it’s not entirely true. I am a product manager for a small Enterprise Software-as-a-Service unit within a gigantic world-famous technology company. For almost 20 years now I’ve been working for financial institutions and technology companies. But I have a dream. I would really like to work for an educational software company that is moving to the web or to mobile platforms. I already wrote that I think that the school of tomorrow will be very different than it is today, and I would love to merge my personal and professional passions. My desire to work in this field grew even stronger when I had my first look inside Time4Learning.com. I got accepted in their review program and have one month of free membership with them. I felt about their site the way I feel about my own “software children” – I love them, but they didn’t quite meet the vision I had for them in my head. I’ll share first what I like about Time4Learning.com, and remember – it’s only “the first look”. I plan to write more about my experiences at a later date.

Content – I appreciate having access to a full online curriculum, and I found it fairly well organized. It’s also very nice that they give you a preview of thw whole curriculum before sign up.

Website could be a bit less cluttered, but I could find everything I wanted easily. One suggestion – make your facebook fan page and other social media presences (if you have them) more prominent, because I don’t see any link to facebook on your front page.

Passion, idea development and customer support – I can feel that the organization really cares about its business, especially while visiting their facebook page and parent forum.

Now let’s move on to negatives:

Security breach waiting to happen. Dear time4learning.com! Have you ever heard about bad people called hackers? Will you please move your login to be on https and not on http? And while you are at it, do not collect password information in the sign up form and do not display it as a clear text in the login form. I was very dismayed to see those glaring security issues. I am very paranoid about the loss of my personal data and I wouldn’t consider giving you my credit card information, because it’s linked to my password, and in my opinion you don’t protect my password well enough.

Pricing. I heard some people complaining about the cost of time4learning.com. Actually, I think that the cost is reasonable if you have one child like I do. But I think it’s unfair to ask big families to pay $14.95 for every extra child. This can really make the cost too expensive for large families that could really use your great services. I would suggest having rather something like buy 2, get 1 free approach or some sort of site license.

Playground. This is one example of a good idea that went bad in your design and development cycle. I think any normal child would spend all its allowed time just deciding what game to play or would pick something at random out of a million games that are dumped there. I wish I could see only age-appropriate games, I wish to have parental control over what games are available to my child and I wish you would provide me with a wizard to help me choose good games based on my knowledge of my child’s interests.

I did introduce Anna to her new “computer time” yesterday and we started with the very first activity in K Math curriculum. Her opinion so far? I will leave you hanging, so you can come back and read more :)

13 comments:

An Almost Unschooling Mom said...

I'm looking forward to hearing more about this site. I've glanced at it a couple of times, but never been enticed to try it out.

Pathfinder Mom said...

On the paid account, the parent login is secure - that's the one that has access to the CC info. The student login is not secured and it is set up so that they can see the password that they've typed. That non-secure login has access to the lessons and playground, but not the control info.

The girl who painted trees said...

My husband is a programmer and has done a lot of educational things. He helped develop E-cot, Ohio's virtual school. I haven't had a chance to go look too much at Time4Learning, but I also signed up to review it. Should be interesting.

Raising a Happy Child said...

@PathFinder - yes, I just noticed that, and your explanation for child login kind of makes sense, but it's still not secure for shared environments and not secure if, for whatever reason parent decides to share password with a child. I almost did it on sign up, because I knew that I will be logging in for Anna for the time being.

Joyful Learner said...

Personally, a comprehensive learning program will make it all too convenient to let your kids sit at the computer and call it learning. There's so much that can be missed.

The girl who painted trees said...

@JL - I agree in part. I think it depends on the kind of parent. I personally wouldn't use it as a comprehensive program. I signed on mostly because I want to take a look at their science and socials curriculum.

Raising a Happy Child said...

@JC It's not comprehensive - only reading and math curriculum for K. I would never consider comprehensive online curriculum for science or social studies - I am mostly interested in math :)

Christy said...

Fantastic post. I love the way you elaborated on the pros and cons. I can't wait to hear more.

I hope your dream comes true!

The girl who painted trees said...

I never said I would want comprehensive science and Socials curriculum. I like to follow Bear's interests on these subjects. I am only curious to see what lessons they put on there.

Waterdreamer said...

I got accepted as well. We started doing the science units on living and non living animals and today worked on ants and armadillos. Part of me likes it and part of me
doesn't. I really dislike the quiz is not read to the child. I mean most children in kindergarten are still learning to read. They are not really age friendly if you ask me.
The security thing really scares me now that you pointed it out. Thank you

Ticia said...

One of Jeff's cousin's husband used to work for AR (Accelerated Reader, it's a reading program for kids kind of like a library program only on computers and with quizzes). I always thought that was fascinating and loved "talking shop" with him, and talking about how it was used in the classroom.

I bet you could easily find a job in an educational programming position, now it may not be in California....... I think we have a couple of text book companies in Austin, just saying.

Debbie said...

So far our thoughts tend to be in line. I was worried about the security as well. There are a few thoughts on my personal experience that I will share in my review that I think will differ from yours. As far as calling this a complete curriculum, I can not say that for any of the subject areas.

MaryAnne said...

Great review, and I hope you do get your dream someday, because I bet you would design some truly fantastic educational software!