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Python Programming Review by Hannah Vaughan

CompuScholar, Inc.
(888) 606-7263 (homeschool hotline)
980 Birmingham Rd, Suite 501-128
Alpharetta, GA 30004

My son has been interested in learning about computer programming for some time, so when we received the opportunity to take the online Python Programming course from CompuScholar, he was overjoyed. Because the course is completely online and automatically graded, we only needed a computer and a good internet connection. Students have an option to download the actual Python program from online, but it is not necessary to complete the projects.

This Introductory Python Programming course consists of 13 chapters and four supplemental chapters, with each chapter having around four lessons. In each lesson is a short explanatory video, with a text that reiterates what is in the video and delves deeper into the subject material. There is a five-problem quiz at the end of each lesson, and the program gives the student three attempts to take the quiz. Each chapter includes one major computer graded coding activity and,at the end of each completed chapter,one major test consisting of 20 problems. In the text material for each lesson, there are smaller ungraded coding activities which allows the student to experiment with coding. The cost for the Python Programming course is $25 a month or $195 per year. The course states that it is the equivalent of one semester or 0.5 credits or 90 hours.

Intended as an introductory course into the world of computer science for beginning students, the Python Programming course teaches introductory computer programming. This course covers fundamental coding topics and skills like printing, user input, data types and variables, logical expressions, and flow control, debugging skills, lists and loops, working with numbers, dates, and strings, writing and using functions, and simple object-oriented programming. More topics are covered throughout the scope of the course, and Python Programming can also be used to meet standards for introductory coding courses in many states, making this a great option for an elective course credit for a high school student considering computer programming as a career.

The Python Programming course, intended for middle and high school students, is designed perfectly with homeschool families in mind. All work is online, no textbook is needed, and there is swift access to an online help center via the Support Tickets if any problems arise. If a family has multiple children interested in taking the course, a sibling can be added for $40 with the purchase of a year’s subscription.

There is a separate Teacher’s Account that comes with the subscription and includes teacher’s guides, answer keys, and fully coded activity solutions. The teacher, or parent, has a gradebook in their account so that they can keep up with the student’s grades. There is even the possibility to reset some quizzes, projects, and tests so that they can have their student retake anassignment if necessary. An example question for a quiz would be: Which of the following statements will successfully update the second element in a list named "marbles"? An example coding activity might be:You are going to use all your learned coding skills to create the Burger Castle fast food ordering system! Your Burger Castle program will show the customer a menu, take individual items in their order, and then print out a description of each item in the order.

Students attending traditional schools could also make use of this program to begin learning computer coding. It is a nice, stress-free, do-at-your-own-pace type of course that allows the student to enjoy the activities and ensure they are fully learning the material. Since my son had some interest in studying programming and is currently being homeschooled in high school, we used this course as one of his electives so that he would have an opportunity to experience computer coding and determine if this was a good career choice for him. As an elective, we were able to focus time on it after other subjects were completed, and it was an enjoyable side course that did not take up so much time as to be tedious, but yet required just enough time to adequately teach the subject material.

Pros for this course are that the Support Tickets work extremely well. The course is also highly informative and allows you to control at what pace you progress. It teaches step-by-step the beginning process of coding, allowing the student to gradually become integrated into the world of computer programming. My son likes that it allows you to explore the intricacies of programming with the opportunity to receive help when needed.

The cons are that there are some distracting typographical errors in the course. The in-text online coding engine also isn’t designed to hold any side activities, only what they require you to code for the projects, and did cause some difficulties with the coding engine, requiring my son to restart the program multiple times for some projects. There appear to be some minor glitches with the coding engine overall, which did cause some frustrations. The student can download the main Python program to avoid these issues or ask for help with a Support Ticket, fully alleviating the problem. Sometimes the instructions are not clear enough and can lead to difficulties in figuring out the coding projects. With some of the larger projects, the teacher’s activity key lacked enough detail us to completely figure out the problem and solution. However, the swift help of the free online technical support easily resolved the difficulties we were facing, and my son was able to progress to the next assignments with no further issues.

Overall, my son enjoyed this course and was able to learn more easily than I had hoped. It gave him an adequate introduction into the world of computer programming, and the ease of the online course system made it an enjoyable elective that would be suitable for any homeschool student interested in computer science. I would recommend this program for homeschool students, both as an elective or just for the learning experience.

-Product review by Hannah Vaughan, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, May 2019