I love using multimedia in our homeschool investigations, so when I saw a deal on Discovery Education Streaming video on the Homeschool Buyer’s Coop last Spring, I jumped at it. For $325 for the year, I thought I was buying access for my family to a rich resource. Turns out that we rarely use it, and won’t be renewing our subscription.
1) The interface is extremely clunky, and it can be tricky to find that for which one is looking.
2) The ‘summaries’ of each program are rarely more than a sentence or two long, and while they DO give grade ranges and standards alignments, they do NOT give adequate depth for choosing a program, nor (and this is a biggy) ANY warnings of explicit content. I discovered this when watching a film on Pompeii that featured several minutes on the doomed city’s flourishing sex trade! [Ed note: I do not object to such content; such is part of history. I was simply stunned that a company that provides content to schools nationwide would have neglected to warn teachers that a clip included such potentially controversial content.]
3) With a the exception of a small percentage which are stellar series, the clips and movies on Discovery Education Streaming simply are not that good.
4) In one word: Amazon*. They have a much wider variety of significantly higher quality programming, almost ALL with reviews (some by homeschoolers), and many are even included in one’s $75 Amazon Prime yearly membership. Should one, upon reading the reviews, choose to watch something not available for free, most films or series can still be viewed instantly for only a few dollars per episode or full feature film. One would have to make one or more purchases per week, on top of the content viewable for free with Prime, to work up a tally equal to the purchase price of Discovery Education Streaming, and then one is still only paying for content they actually viewed. Add this to free 2-day shipping, and the ebook lending library open to Prime subscribers, and our choice was clear. No, there is no ability to cue up a series of clips. Age ranges for children’s programming are frequently provided, but standards alignments are not. I don’t miss these things at all.* My husband’s novel is part of the Amazon ebook lending library. These decisions and opinions were formed long before his book even saw daylight. I have received no compensation for these opinions; I’m just a satisfied customer. Did I mention that Science Fiction series are particularly well represented among the free streaming options? >;)