Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Review - Zane Education

Zane Education

Web Site:
Age: All
Cost: Varies by Subscription

My boys and I are very visual. We like to see and do rather than simply reading about a topic. Zane education offers a supplementary tool set for seeing and doing. Their website,, contains over 1500 videos in eleven different subject areas all organized by grade level for easy access.

After spending time reviewing the contents of the site, I felt there were several pros and cons to using Zane as part of our homeschool education.


1. Zane provides an alternative to text based content.

2. The videos offered include highlighted text that can be found in the Video Word Glossary.

3. An Encyclopedia, dictionary, thesaurus and access to the World Fact Book are included.

4. Each video incorporates text at the bottom of the slide being read so that the student can read along. Zane states this will help with reading skills including assisting those with special needs or ASL.

5. The videos will eventually incorporate clickable navigation.

6. There are a broad range of topics! This is especially helpful to homeschoolers as we do not always have access to or the ability to teach topics like psychology, sociology, art, music, religious studies, or even library skills.

7. Online quizzes drawn from a pool of possible questions are provided. The ability to test one’s knowledge after watching the videos is an asset. Additionally, correct answers are provided.

9. The various topics are accompanied by Lesson Plan Pages that give you the opportunity to take the knowledge learned from the video further via review questions, terms and suggestions for sharpening your skills.


1. The Cost. While it is relatively inexpensive to purchase a single subject for a month, to use this as an ongoing resource can be expensive. The website states under homeschooling:

 "Homeschool families and Home Educators across the United States and other countries are increasingly using Zane Education because it provides an easier, more effective, much less confusing, and considerably more affordable way of homeschooling - less than $200 per year for the whole family."

However, I don't personally feel the videos and lesson pages provided stand alone. While they are an excellent resource, they are not a substitute for providing actual course materials and supporting assignments. The $197.89 Gold Membership for access to everything on the web site can be pricey as a supplement.

2. When I think video - I think motion picture rather than static slides. Some of the Zane "videos" do include embedded video; however, many also do not. The students are looking at a static picture while the text is being read to them. My sons didn't find this to be very engaging. They felt the voice was somewhat monotonous and wanted a more active approach. Again, that is not to say they aren't an effective supplement, but we wouldn't want to spend the majority of our day looking at slides.

3. The mathematics is primarily from Khan Academy. This is already a free resource. I would not want to pay for something I already have access to for free.

4. Some of the videos are inappropriate. Clearly, this is based on personal opinion. I don't want my boys learning sex education from videos. Nor do I want them exposed to evolution stated as fact without my ability to help them navigate what they are seeing. As with anything, parents have a responsibility to preview anything their children are exposed to and determine what is appropriate. I would not just let my kids jump onto Zane without my guidance.

5. This is just more of a pet peeve than anything - I found the load times to be longer than expected. It seems everything takes a while to load on Zane. I think I'm too used to instant gratification that when I click and wait and wait, I wonder if something is amiss, then it loads. This may just be a bandwidth or server issue that they can improve upon over time. I tried it on more than one network and several computers, so I'm confident it isn't just on my end.


Zane can be a strong supplemental resource. The visual aspects, even of slides, are more engaging to students than just reading text from a text book. The variety on Zane does allow you to expose your children to a variety of topics they might not have access to otherwise. Zane does offer a free Video of the Day - so check them out for yourself before deciding. I'd try a short membership first before committing to something long-term just to make sure it's a good fit for the way you and your family homeschool.

To see reviews by other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew - click here.

*** Disclaimer - I received a Gold Membership free as a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew in exchange for my honest review.

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