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  1. #1
    Site Administrator Arrived Aandwsmom's Avatar
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    Default Reviews of Connections Academy? Good, bad and ugly please!

    Ok, we have used Time 4 Learning through this year....starting Fall 2012....both boys will be in High School and outgrown it.....POOP. I love it, they love it and it works....

    This year, Andrew used eLearning for 9th grade and did ok. I am not thrilled with it and from what I have heard...it can be a year by year choice on whether they offer the Compass Odessey High School program.

    So checking out other options because as I posted in the family complaining dept.....I am not happy with my Mom running their writing program.

    Not sure about piecing their school together via lots of places....I am not as creative as some of you, nor do I have time and gumption to always make sure they do it. But will if that is what it comes down to.

    So....am using April and May to research places, programs, etc.
    I do not think they can go back to public school. Andrew's ADHD halts his changing classes, etc. he didnt get it in 6th grade and now would be a nightmare. William does not do well with crowds and I think that public school would overwhelm him, esp. high school.

    I am currently looking at Connections Academy.....it looks a lot like K-12 online, etc. in that it is regimented on the time frame. More like a public school instead of homeschool. That we do not want. But, fighting 2 teens on schooling vs. online gaming at Minecraft......

    So....have any of you used it, know someone that used it, I want to hear the good, the bad and the ugly!
    Homeschooling Mom since 2008
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  3. #2

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    I am also curious to hear if anyone has had experience with it. My ds will be starting high school in fall and I too am a little scared of putting everything together...

    I have also been looking at Keystone. The tutition is much more reasonable...Have you heard of it??
    First year homeschooling ds 13 and dd 11....doing my best to make this a positive experience for us all, and taking it one day at a time

  4. #3
    Site Administrator Arrived Aandwsmom's Avatar
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    Nope! Connections claims to be free.... but says it is a public online school...... they do have a private school section.

    I am paying $50 a month for eLearning this year for Andrew in 9th grade which is bad enough and next year if I stay with them, it will be $100 a month..... I just am not thrilled with it. So....exploring other options.

    My issue with plucking things from here and there is I am busy. I run a childcare in my home, I do an online job and we are homeschooling since 2008.

    I loved Time 4 Learning like I said, it was all there.... I got to add the fun stuff, etc. but the main curriculum was done.
    Wanting THAT in a high school curriculum at reasonable prices like T4L is.....

    But, if Connections Academy is regimented....no thanks. We only homeschool M-Th, we take 2 weeks off in Oct., 1 week at Thanksgiving, 2 weeks at Christmas, 2 weeks in Spring and finish school in June sometime. We also start early like 2nd week of August. We do that so we have the ability to be flexible and take lots of time off, etc......I do not want a school telling me it has to be done by a certain time. That blows the whole homeschool thing out of the water....

    Hoping some other SHS members have input about Connections, so we can both learn about it!LOL
    Homeschooling Mom since 2008
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  5. #4

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    I did use Connections Academy for the 2009-2010 school year. My boys were in 2nd grade and K. Corbin hated it! lol K was super easy.
    Pros-
    Free
    Everything laid out
    Easy to use
    Teacher guidance
    Electives and clubs
    Group chats with teachers

    Cons:
    Public school (Connections is a public school, so all the required documentation such as vax forms and what not are required)
    Not go at your pace (you have so long to complete something, only work at your pace if they work ahead)
    a LOT of busy work (I spent a lot of time skipping things I didn't feel were relevant)
    Time consuming (we hardly had anytime to go out and play with friends and were pretty home bound)

    My boys were a lot younger than yours at the time, I'm glad I got the experience with it because it helped me figure out what I wanted from a curriculum. I thought of ways it could be better and fit my own kids better. When I did all the orientation it sounded like the high school portion was pretty time consuming!
    Army Family of 5--
    DJ and Jackie
    Corbin, Reid and Faith

  6. #5
    Site Administrator Arrived Aandwsmom's Avatar
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    Thank you Jackielyn!!!!!
    I do not want time consuming!
    I do not want us tied down.
    Heck, we are tied down enough because I work from home and we are a 1 car family.
    If we are having a hard time with stuff, I want to be able to skip it or say forget it.
    Still looking for more opinions!
    Just to cover all boundaries!
    Homeschooling Mom since 2008
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  7. #6
    Junior Member Newbie Tattach's Avatar
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    First off, I am so glad I found this website (although maybe a little too late) as one is graduating this year and the other has one more year to go. We've been doing homeschool for 6 years through various online charters and even one awesome that was a virtual/physical combination. Sadly, we left that school due to military transfer. Anyways, for the 2011/2012 school year our teens have been participating in Oregon Connection Academy High School, so here's the good, bad, and the ugly from my perspective.

    Yes, Connestions Academy is free and they even offer a small stipend to defray the cost of internet access. They can even send you a computer to use.

    You do have some flexibility with Connections, in that you can do school anytime of the day you wish. State laws require that you do a set amount of hours each day and you must log them online everyday. There are also Live Lessons with teachers once a week (30-60 minutes) for most classes, but not all. Live Lessons are at a set time every week and are optional. Depending on the Teacher, some of the Live Lessons are helpful while others are completely useless.

    For High School, each student is given an online to-do list daily and they check them off as each one is completed. Then you as a Learning Couch can see what they have completed and approve them. Lessons are given 1 or 2 days to complete, with most allowing only one day. There is usually one lesson from each class everyday. You still have the flexibility to do your own type of block scheduling if desired. If a student gets behind, I have never seen anyone penalized (grade wise) as long as you are caught up before then end of each semester. You just have to be a stickler about logging attendance every day, even if your kid did school on that day or not. So you could actually take a day off (Connections won't tell you this). Meaning, you could do an extra hour 4 days of the week to make up for that 5th day.

    All this doesn't sound so bad, now does it? Well, here's how Oregon Connections Academy failed us.

    Curriculum is often too difficult, more like College than High School, often poorly presented so students can't comprehend. I often found myself learning the curriculum elsewhere online (from non Connections sources) so I could teach it to our kids. Heck, Connections should be paying me as a teacher instead.

    Tests and large Portfolio assignments are always on Fridays for all classes. This is an unrealistic expectation to get all this done in one day, not enough time given. Connections solution is to work ahead of scheduled assignemnts, so this does not happen. Makes no sence, the school schedules the lessons. We're just following the daily "To Do" list.

    The bad teachers outweight the competent. When a student asks a teach for help, the standard responce is usually, "Go read the assignment again." Telephone help from teachers is not usually helpful, they either end up playing "telephone tag", or can't help because the student is a kinesthetic or visual learner. One particular teacher would "cut and paste" the same grading comment to every student, even of it didn't apply to that student. This was obvious when the students name is Bobby, and yet it is addressed to "Sally."

    We were told at an Orientation prior to registering, that the graduation ceremony would be in our city. Almost finished with the 1st semester and we are told that the location is moved to another city. We'd need to travel, pay for a hotel, and all the other expences. All money we just don't have to make it happen, so daughter has to miss graduation.

    Online Clubs are not feasible for people on the west coast. They are all conducted in a Live Lesson format and are on east coast time, which conflict with Live Lessons in core classes. There is NO avenue for general off topic high school socialization. There are message boards, but students can not create their own posts, they can only reply to very specific school related topics.

    Connections Adademy graduation requirements are different than the states requirements. Each state is different so it's difficult to explain this one, other than to say their requirements are higher. Works for some, but not for our son with ADD.

    Activites and Field Trips in our area are geared more towards K-6. Field trips for High Schoolers are almost always in Portland (largest city), again too far for us to drive. Not that we are in a small city, we're in the Capitol, so I don't understand.

    There are other problems, political and otherwise, but I think I've given you enough to think about. If you have any questions, please ask.

    Lori
    Disabled Military Family of 4

  8. #7

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    Hi, I was homeschooled through Ohio Connections Academy from 5th through high school. I graduated through them last May. At first it was awesome but as the years have gone on it's gone down hill. My homework got harder and the teachers more distant. I struggle with math and require an extra breakdown of each step. My teachers were no help, they actually penalized me for doing my own way of it to get the correct answer instead of their way.

    My little sister is in the seventh grade through them and asked me to help her with math. I just finished my first semester of college, in it I took a developmental algebra class. It was extremely helpful to me. Thankfully I understood it, without it I wouldn't have been able to help her. We were actually using my college math textbook to do it.

    The courses are extremely advanced, which is great if your some sort of genius, but for regular people who just need the regular school courses it's too difficult. They waited to tell me in January of 2012 that I didn't meet requirements and wouldn't be graduating with the rest of my class like I was supposed to that year. All because they failed to tell me I was a math class and one science class short.

    Also, they botched our graduation ceremony too. They had us vote for our music, played none of it. Send in a baby picture and a current picture in a premade template to play before the ceremony, done. Never showed.
    When it was over we were marched out and up some stairs to where we had been put into order. At the top we were told if we hadn't left anything there then we could go. Turned right back around and down the stairs. At the bottom all of the school officials had magically disappeared. Four schools had just finished ceremony's there and all dumped into the same great hall. OCA Students had to hunt for family. If I hadn't turned my phone off and hidden it in my dress I wouldn't have been able to find my parents.

    All in all, I don't recommend OCA and we are looking into switching my sister to K-12 or ECot.

  9. #8

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    My daughter uses Connections now. She has trouble getting teachers to respond to here. When her 6 year old blew through Kindy and First grade before Christmas she had a hard time convincing them to allow her to move up to Second grade. I am just so glad that time4learning now offers a full high school curriculum.
    Kathi
    Mama to 12 year old Dakota and Gramma to Homeschooling Damien, Kennedy and Ciencia all using Time4Learning.com for online curriculum.
    Shop Etsy Buy Homemade http://hippiefairylover.etsy.com

  10. #9

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    Those are some eye-opening personal experiences, deeply appreciated. I am not remotely interested in Public School, even done remotely, but I somehow got on a mailing list and got their ad, and looked it up online out of curiosity. What struck me with unease was the perfect, perfect, happy shiny perfection of everything, that they claim. Well, of course they would. But I had encountered ads like that before, and knew exactly what it was. Still, I was interested in finding out more, because we tried Time4, and my kids loved it for about the first few days, then once the novelty wore off, hated it, and I didn't blame them much.

    If this Connections thing compares poorly even to that, yikes! The time requirement also looked ludicrous. One of the benefits of potentially homeschooling in high school, would be NOT being chained to a desk all day! Yet their version of high school is being chained to a computer all day! At least if my kids spend all day on the computer, it's intense interests they are following, not cookie-cutter curriculum. Not that I let them do that. Often. Usually I kick them off to get some fresh air or do a chore, after a certain amount of sitting-on-rear time.

    But just perusing the mailed ad, I really wondered what the draw was, of getting all the worst of both worlds: public school work, all day, but no off-record lunchtime shenanigans, no posse to develop, etc. If public school turns out to be something we're considering when my daughter is old enough, I'd rather she got the Whole Enchilada, and went to the actual brick-and-mortar high school, warts, farts, and all. Otherwise, the benefit of being NOT in public school, would be working jobs, travel, early college or apprenticeships, stuff like that, not being glued to a computer alone at home, for the same time that she could have been warming a chair in school, at least having SOME fun!

    High school was nothing I'd ever want to go through again, even at the nice magnet school, but even then, it had some really cool and wonderful moments and memories that could not have happened alone in front of a screen. So we'll go all the way, one way or the other, public school, or homeschool, but not public-school-at-home.

    I could see the appeal of it, though, for a kid who needed or wanted the public school curriculum to continue, but for some reason just really needed out of the public school environment. Extreme bullying, having zero friends so there was no point in being there physically, serious medical conditions or life-threatening allergies that make school unsafe, etc. For those families, if taking the full plunge into homeschooling is too scary, I could see this being a beneficial option, and wonder if people who have done that, find it the same, better, or worse, for the academics and irritations/busywork, as regular public school.
    Middle-aged mom of 4 kids spanning a 10-year age range, homeschooling since 2009, and a public school mom also, since 2017.

  11. #10
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    I met someone who graduated he children from connections. Her kids were serious tennis players and traveled for tournaments a lot. It sounded like they lived out of their rv most of the year. It worked for them it seems.

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Reviews of Connections Academy? Good, bad and ugly please!