Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Microsoft Student

This review is cross-posted from my other blog Yup-Another Review Blog.

Through MotherTalk and Microsoft , and Mom Central I was asked to review Microsoft Student on my blog. Sure, I got a copy for free, but I'm not being paid to write the blog. I was only asked to write it by a certain date (which of course I am waiting until the last minute to do!). So, I can be honest with you about it.

I LOVE it! Seriously. I really do. It's organized (unlike me). It's easy to use. And best of all, my Son likes it. Which is a good thing, because he is the one who is supposed to doing the homework.
I've spent a few days getting familiar with it. But I'll warn you, just like surfing the net, it's easy to surf this and get lost in time. Even if it is academics, it is. My Son realized this too.

I'll start with how it's organized. There are 3 sections to pick from: Homework, Projects and Discover & Learn.

The Homework Section contains math, foreign language and search tools. The math section is good, but I think meant for more middle/high school. My son is currently learning a lot of the topics (5th grade math), but the way the text is written it's pretty straight forward. Math is also not my strength, so I especially find this section helpful. It's a review for me of math concepts (by topic) so that I can explain to my son. It's also got some neat stuff like calculator (which we can never seem to find when we need one), conversion charts, and formulas.

To be honest I didn't spend too much time in the foreign language section as that simply doesn't apply to our current homework needs.

The search tools is neat. You can find articles, photos, maps, dictionary, thesaurus - quickly. For when you need that quick reference and don't want to spend time searching through web page after web page reading and looking for that one fact.

The Project Section contains papers & reports, presentations, and charts & graphs. Any type of writing - it's there. You get a template and a side bar with hints and how-to's for the writing process for that type of writing. From pre-writing, drafting editing and revising. It's got writing tutorials and various writing tools also.

The presentation section was also well put together. It's got how to's (which I actually find easier to read that the one's written for adults - I just may yet figure out how to put together Power Point presentations!). There is also templates for different types of presentations kids have to do. And, for quick reference, the writing tools are here too (dictionary, citation help, etc).

The last section is the Discover & Learn. This is the dangerous part. Make sure you have time on your hand when you go here. There are once again 3 sections: explore Encarta by subject, college & career and games & fun stuff.

Under explore by subject is every subject imaginable -history, people, science, geography, arts and then subcategories within those. Then, when you find the topic you need, there are articles, websites, artwork, further reading, audio clips and video clips. AND there is Encarta Kids, which is easier reading level of topics.

Like the foreign language section, I didn't spend much time at all in the college and career section.

Games and fun section is last. Once again, a wide variety of topics with little games to test your knowledge as well as teach. Another great place to explore topics of interest.

So, I do have to admit - it's a great resource. My son NEVER has any excuse for not being able to find an answer on how to do something, what to write. Even if he forgets his textbooks at school. He also feels a sense of independence having a computer help him instead of Mom. It makes him feel more grown-up/big-kid-like. The easy to use point and click encourages him to explore topics of interest. I'd much rather him be surfing this than his PlayStation games!
When he was younger he used to play the JumpStart games, but he finds those childish now. He looks to this as a fun way to learn, but not feeling babied.

So, a huge thanks to Microsoft Student. You get an 'A' in my grade book.

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