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Discovery Health Connection

By Alice Kurtz - Posted May 1, 2005
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REPORT CARD
Overall Rating:4 Stars
Installation:A
Content/Features:A-
Ease of Use:A-
Product Support:A

Located online at http://www.discoveryhealthconnection.com.

Source: Discovery Education, 1560 Sherman Avenue, Suite 100, Evan­ston, IL 60201; Phone: 800/613-7450; Fax: 847/328-6706; Internet: http://www.discoveryhealthconnection.com/.

Access Fee: $995—annual site license, per school.

Audience:  K-12

Minimum System Requirements: Computer with sound card, video card, Internet access, and printing capabilities.

Description: Discovery Health Connection is a Web-based subscription service that provides a digital library of health and prevention resources for K-12 teachers. These resources include curriculum guides, worksheets, videos, and extension activities that address nine health and prevention issues for students. A subscription offers an unlimited number of accounts, unlimited access to streaming video content, and PDF files that can be downloaded directly from the Internet, as well as access to administrative tools for managing the program.

Reviewer Comments:

Installation/Access: Discovery Health Connection is accessed through a username/password logon. The program readily opened to the home page. Installation/Access Rating: A

Content/Features: Discovery Health Connection offers standards-based curriculum with lessons, extensions, worksheets, parent newsletters, and videos covering a wide range of traditional health and prevention topics. At the time of this review, the topics available at the site included Violence and Tobacco.

Nutrition, Alcohol and Other Drugs, and Safety are slated for later release in 2005. The topics scheduled to be available in 2006 include Mental Health, Growth and Development, Physical Activity, and The Body.

The curriculum is designed for grade clusters: K-3, 4-6, 6-8, and 9-12. This digital library of health and prevention topics is an online version of currently available health and prevention curriculums, including Here's Looking at You, Here's Looking at You 2000, Get Real about Tobacco, and Get Real about Violence.

After logging on, users can find specific grade-level lessons through a search of topics and subtopics in one search area. Users also can select the general topic and a Connection in a second search area. 

The Connections include Literary, Family, Community, and School. These areas provide a variety of activities, such as suggestions to hold a discussion with a family member about what it was like to date someone who smoked or to practice a newly learned self-control skill.

The general topic selection tool takes users to a complete grade-specific table of contents for a selected topic. For example, in the tobacco curriculum for grades 4-6, the unit includes such topics as Vulnerability to Tobacco Use, Contributors to Tobacco Use, Alternative to Tobacco Use, and Follow-ups.

The materials can be searched based on state standards; they also can be searched with one or more search terms and then sorted according to selected specifications. For example, you can search for only Spanish-language videos.

The lessons are straightforward and easy for the teacher to follow and implement. All of the lesson components are available through hotlinks on the screen or through PDF files. The onscreen lessons require a long scroll. This is not the most convenient way to view the lesson, but it can give you a quick preview before you select the PDF version.

The lesson content and delivery is fairly traditional. The lesson design is well-organized and lists materials and supplies needed, as well as lesson objectives. Some of the lessons involve discussion after watching a video, after reading, or after completing a worksheet. Other lessons ask students to act out situations. Students work in groups, with partners, or independently in various lessons. These features allow the user to adapt the lessons as necessary to meet student needs.

The videos are informative and feature realistic situations. They are fast-paced and give clear information that piques student discussion. The videos are easy to load and view; directions are provided for both Macintosh and PC downloading.

Selected lessons offer parent news­letters. In the future, the site will offer a newsletter for subscribers that will provide teaching tips, new resources, and site updates.

Some enhancements that would improve the site would be the addition of Internet references or links for additional research or in-depth information and newer lesson plans for teaching these important topics. It would also be helpful if classroom posters could be made available with the subscription or for an additional nominal fee. Content/Features Rating: A-

Ease of Use: The digital library is fairly easy to use. There are a variety of options for accessing lessons that are topical, grade specific, or focused on a particular state standard.

The load time for the videos was acceptable, although the search time for topics was slow. The screen interface is uncluttered. Hotlinked navigation history is located at the top of the search window, which helps users know where they have been. This makes it easy to return to a previous spot in the curriculum. The scrolling is too long if the user wants to read the lesson on the screen rather than as a PDF.

Part of the subscription to Discovery Health Connection includes support and phone training for educators. Also included in this service is an initial site walkthrough that provides an overview and introduction to the program components. Ease of Use Rating: A-

Product Support: Product support is available by phone at a toll-free telephone number, 800/613-7450, or by e-mail at info@discoveryhealth
connection.com. The phone training and support offered for new subscribers are nice features. At the time of this review, the support link at the Web site was not yet operational. Product Support Rating: A

Recommendation: Discovery Health Connection offers a quick and easy-to-use digital library of the most commonly required health and prevention topics in a lesson plan format with all the accompanying materials. Teachers will find very good lesson plans, as well as lots of materials to enhance the health, safety, and guidance curriculums.

The library takes the best and most widely used currently available health and prevention curriculums and combines them into one digital source. This makes it easier for teachers to meet their state standards and to feel confident in the quality of the lessons.

The price for a site license is reasonable when compared to the separate purchase of the materials for each covered topic. Program funding is so tight, and the possible budget slash of the federal government's Safe and Drug Free funding for next year (affecting 48 different programs within the U.S. Department of Education, including the Elementary and Secondary School Counseling Program) and the outright elimination of the Safe and Drug Free Schools and Communities grants program doesn't help matters. This subscription offers an unlimited number of accounts for an annual site license fee and is an attractive alternative for providing greatly needed health and prevention curriculum.

At the time of this review, the entire curriculum was not operational. At present, the subscription would be a good purchase for grades 4-8. The material eventually will cover the K-12 spectrum. Recommended.

Reviewer: Alice Kurtz, 5/6 grade teacher, Irving B. Weber School, 3850 Rohret Road, Iowa City, IA  52246; 319/339/5757; Kurtz.alice@iccsd.k12.ia.us.


 
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