Company: School Specialty Media, 2 Skyline Drive, Hawthorn, NY 10532. Phone: (877) 279-4090; Internet: www.learn360.com.
Price: An average school-based license costs $790 per year. Discounts are available for district and multiple site licenses.
Format: Internet-based: streaming audio and video, image, and management tools.
Minimum System Requirements: A Macintosh or Windows computer with internet access, a browser, and a media player (QuickTime, Adobe Flash Player, or Windows Media Player). The program accommodates all internet access speeds, but the minimum of a DSL connection is recommended.
Description: Learn360 is a video streaming service for K–12 schools. The features include full-length educational videos, video clips, audio files, newsreel footage, and still images. Users can add their own digital videos or audio content. Highlights of the system include on-demand materials in alignment with state standards, a flexible Administration Module, the ability to upload a school’s own media, and Flash tutorials of the features and functions of the product.
Overall Rating: ****
Ease of Use A
Product Support A
Installation/Access: The program is accessed with a username and password. There was no problem accessing the product.
The opening screen immediately offers a Quick Start guide that can be read easily by the user. The interface on the homepage is intuitive; anyone who has used a streaming video service will find this one very easy to navigate. Installation/Access Rating: A
Content/Features: The Learn360 library collection offers full-length videos, video clips, still images, and audio files covering all aspects of the curriculum. Health and guidance resources that cover topics such as bullying, drug and alcohol abuse, smoking, and more are included.
The content is provided by School Specialty Media’s Sunburst Visual Media product line, as well as by partnerships with National Geographic Digital Media, PBS, Goldhil Educational, Standard Deviants, Mazzarella Media, Monterey Media, RockThe SAT, Lou Reda Productions, Allegro Productions, Twin Sisters, and more. The subscription price includes access to all content (including premium National Geographic and PBS materials) and optional local hosting, with no additional fees.
Searches can be conducted by keyword, subject, grade, media format, grade level, or state standard. Each resource listing includes appropriate grade levels, run time, and suggested search terms that can lead to more tangential materials on the topic.
The related search terms provided as topics are invaluable for greater depth of study. The hotlinked terms take the user deeper into a topic and provide materials that can enrich or explain the topic more fully.
Once a resource is chosen, the user has the option of selecting a full video, various related video clips, or portions of the full video labeled by topic and run time. Two tabs provide an accompanying student activity and the state standards addressed by the material. Photos can be collected into slide shows or used individually.
I searched the topic of the Great Depression and, with these keywords, found 74 videos, stills, and newsreels. Other suggestions aligned with this topic were the Dust Bowl, the stock market crash of 1929, unemployment, and more. The available materials were well-designed and succinct. It was interesting to see that video quizzes were available. I was a little surprised, however, that there weren’t materials specific to Herbert Hoover and Franklin D. Roosevelt.
The Activity tab provides a research/writing activity for students. At the time of this review, many of the Activity tabs were under construction.
It would have been nice to see some related novels or other print materials mentioned in the Activity segments. For the "Rails" video clip from the Great Depression search, for example, a good reading suggestion might have been Nowhere to Call Home by Cynthia DeFelice.
The streaming video is available in QuickTime, Flash, and Windows Media formats. Users can add links to their own content in digital video or audio format. Materials from this program can be embedded into PowerPoint presentations or Inspiration Software products.
The administration component of this product allows the addition of users and sites and offers the ability to generate reports covering topics such as media usage. The management through multiple buildings is very easy; there is a good deal of flexibility in this portion of the program.
The subscription allows the use of Learn360 in the classroom and in students’ homes.
A free 30-day trial is available. Content/Features Rating: A-
Ease of Use: The Learn360 interface makes navigation a simple task.
The top left-hand area of the screen shows the search path of the user. This feature allows easy navigation through screens, including backtracking and linking to the homepage.
The Preview feature is helpful when selecting materials to accompany lessons. Items can be stored in a Play List for quick access. Pictures can be organized easily into a slide show. Ease of Use Rating: A
Product Support: The support for the use of this product is amazing. The Quick Start Guide on the homepage helps first-time users become competent with the product very quickly. The Help menu offers three modes of problem solving: Flash tutorials, a problems and solutions feature, and an FAQ resource.
The Flash tutorials are excellent. They use a show-and-tell format to cover the features that users would be interested in learning quickly, such as how to embed video clips into PowerPoint or Inspiration products and how to manage the Administrator Module.
The Problems and Solutions feature deals with standard technical issues that might arise.
The FAQ section covers questions related to product functions, as well as issues that typically come up when using multimedia materials.
Technical support is available at a toll-free telephone number from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST. Email support is available; a response is guaranteed within 24 hours. Product Support Rating: A
Recommendation: Learn360 offers a carefully chosen streaming video and audio library for classroom use. The resources are appropriate for student learning; the content is increased constantly.
The product features make Learn360 very appealing. The video materials have been developed for educational purposes, and they effectively meet the needs of learners.
The ease of navigation is a big plus. The user-friendly Flash tutorials for every function of the product allow for seamless use in the classroom.
The video clip is a dynamic resource for supporting and explaining curriculum. Students benefit tremendously from visual materials. Videos used as a facet of a thoughtful lesson plan provide active, sensory experiences for students. This material generates excitement and helps students to "experience" a concept. Video and sound clips appeal to auditory and visual learners. This material can take students on field trips through time and space, encouraging deeper understanding.
With the flexible pricing plan tailored to the specific needs of various schools and districts, this is a recommended product. Recommended.
Reviewer: Alice Kurtz , 5/6 grade teacher, Irving B. Weber School, Iowa City, IA.