VideoText's Algebra: A Complete Course is unusual since it combines pre-algebra through algebra 2 concepts (including serious work with functions) in a single course. If you are considering starting this at the pre-algebra level, you should know that most pre-algebra courses now include geometry, measurement, and other topics that are beyond the scope of this course. This course focuses on number concepts that are foundational for algebra: fractions, decimals, operations, prime numbers, signed numbers, etc. It continues from there to teach algebraic concepts in a different sequence than is common to most other programs. Equations and inequalities are taught together, concepts are developed in order of degrees (e.g., first degree equations, then second-degree equations), and it strives to follow a logical continuity from lesson to lesson as much as possible.
The course is divided into six modules, which should take one to three months each to complete. Consider the entire program equivalent to two years of high school algebra and a supplement to a pre-algebra course, even though it should take less than two-and-a-half years to complete.
Five- to ten-minute lessons are presented on videos (about 30 lessons per module). These should be paused frequently for students to consider their own answers to questions posed by the video teacher. Parents should watch the video and discuss concepts with students, but I suspect most parents will prefer that their teens work independently.
A booklet of course notes covering all key concepts and examples comes with each module, so students do not need to take their own notes as they watch videos. Each module has a non-consumable student worktext that presents concepts again using additional examples while following up with practice exercises. A Solutions Manual provides step-by-step solutions for every problem in the worktext. A Progress Tests booklet contains quizzes, tests, and cumulative reviews. Two versions of each test allow for retesting when necessary. Finally, Instructor’s Guides included in each module offer step-by-step solutions to all quizzes, tests, and reviews plus cross-references for test problems to the appropriate lessons.
A number of different teachers present the lessons but, because all the lessons were written by a single author, they all use a consistent style that works very well. Presentations are methodical and clear. Videos use animated graphics to illustrate lessons. Emphasis is upon conceptual understanding rather than memorization of processes.
This is solid algebra instruction that should work well for independent learners. The multimedia presentation is likely to be especially helpful for students who struggle with math. If it does not pose problems for SAT or ACT testing, I recommend completing all six modules before tackling a geometry course.
The course materials are generally sold in digital formats, but there are options to purchase printed books and DVDs. In addition, you can purchase the entire course with all six modules, bundles of three modules at a time, or individual modules. (Each module includes videos and books.)