Wednesday, September 4, 2013

REVIEW: Teen Coder Windows and Game Programming

Mosaic Reviews recently offered us the chance to review something a bit different than your standard curriculum.  Homeschool Programming offers both "kid" and "teen" courses in computer programs, games and Android applications.  Reaching into some of the electives, computer programming is a bit of a specialized market and an even more specialized interest.  In our house, the computer minded folks are affectionately dubbed the "geeks".  This program appealed to me for that very group of students in our home. The time of year was tough for us to dig in deeply and use it as a set, structured curriculum and work through it fully.  We were able to do several lessons and skim the rest, checking out what it had to offer.  It left enough of an impression, it will be part of our school program this year (we aren't starting just yet, for family needs).

From the website:
  Our computer programming courses for kids and teens teach students to write programs, games, and Android applications!
No teacher expertise required! All of our award-winning computer science courses for Visual Basic, C#, and Java are self-study.

And boy, oh boy!  Let me tell you, I am thankful for that "no teacher expertise required" bit!  I will explain more in a moment. 

As a reviewer, I received:

A digital copy of both the Windows Programming and Game Programming text books
Online access to all of the videos (optional part of the program)

This is the equivalent to the year pack for $155.00 on the website, with the videos included.

A brief summary of the product from the publisher:
 The TeenCoder C# programming courses are designed for 9th-12th grade students who may be interested in computer science as a career, hobby, or who may need a computer course for high school graduation. Build your school transcript with a high quality technical elective that is easily recognized by college professors.

I will tell you that way back when, in my final months of high school, I took a computer programming course that I still vaguely remember.  "If then, go to" will forever be stamped in my mind.  It left me feeling a bit arrogant about what I knew, I will unashamedly admit.  Computer programming has come a very long way and changed so much that it was like reading a foreign language to me, as I was browsing the terminology and components.  To say that it has been 20+ years and I do somewhat know my way around computers meant absolutely nothing when I opened this program.  I was quickly humbled by my meager, fading knowledge of this ever changing subject.  After a deep breath, and following the steps from the beginning, taking bite size pieces at a time (remember that part about reading instructions? Yeah, trust me!  It helps sometimes, LOL!).  The team at Homeschool Programming knew there would be parents like me.  They broke it all down so very well that I was back on my feet and running in no time. 

The program helped me understand the history and background of programming and how it has changed and evolved.  The lessons explain not only the HOW of various tasks and lessons, but the WHY.  This was huge.  I am a firm believer in understanding.  I like to say that if you can't understand how it works, you probably shouldn't be using it.  I will admit, I haven't applied this mantra to my computer usage.   This program is helping me fix that problem.  What? You thought it was only for the kids? I think parents can easily learn from this too. 

As we worked through the various lessons, I truly, and I mean *TRULY* appreciated having the videos to help me.  If you've read any of my other reviews, you may remember that I am a visually oriented learner, and having a digital copy of the text book challenged me, but the videos helped pull me back together again.

Thoughts and summaries:

  • This program is very thorough to my non expert eye and mind. 
  • The price point is a bit steep to some one's pocket book if you are cheap like I am, but the program is very easily handed to a child with total self direction for the teen program that we reviewed.  That is priceless to many parents.
  •  The depth of the language was above my head and I felt lost until I took it step by step.  The text and the videos make it clear what is being explained and what is expected. 
  • The projects are simple, practical, and fun
  • I was impressed by the lesson plans, the scope and sequence, the tests that and the solutions manual.  They are so straight forward that I don't need to fully understand the concepts to help my student.
  • While the videos are optional, they can be beneficial.  They are animated and not anything fancy, but highlight printed text and activities to help those who learn through different input.
  • The basic graphics and cartoon styling are perfect for the easily distracted in the house.  Simple, yet appropriate.  

All in all?  I have had a crazy summer, interrupted by health issues, garden and farm life and work, but the time I did spend with this program left me wanting more time to use it and absorb it. 

To check it out more, here are the must know details:

Homeschool Programming, Inc
980 Birmingham Rd, Suite 501-128
Alpharetta, GA 30004

Find them on Facebook at:

The website:

To read all of the team reviews of both TeenCoder and KidCoder, visit Mosaic Reviews


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