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Topic: HS planning/tracking software programs - need input

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Subject: HS planning/tracking software programs - need input
Date Posted: 5/16/2008 6:58 PM ET
Member Since: 3/20/2007
Posts: 931
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I'm needing some input on homeschool planner/tracker software.  I'm going from a "school in a box" approach that I've used for five years (K12) that came w/ awesome planning and progress tools, to more of an eclectic approach this year.  As a result, I need to choose a planner program, and it has to be electronic - not pencil & paper.

I'm currently comparing these three:

*Homeschool Tracker (free basic edition) - but I'd use Plus if I decided on it

www.homeschooltracker.com/

*Homeschool Minder

www.homeschoolminder.com/

*Edu-Track

www.contechsolutions.net/products/eths_pc/

I've found a few others, but was able to wipe them from the list.  I find HST "clunky" and not visually appealing (I'm highly visual).  Perhaps Plus is much better.  I love the style and inputting of HSM, but it doesn't have many features.  I'm waiting on the demo disc for Edu-Track, and so far it seems to have the best number of features.

I have an Excel spreadsheet to compare all three and the decision looks great on paper, but I need some "real life" input into the pros and cons of each - especially if you've used more than one.

TIA for any help!

JC



Last Edited on: 5/16/08 9:26 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 5/18/2008 11:47 PM ET
Member Since: 8/13/2006
Posts: 126
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I love my Homeschool Tracker.  I have the Plus version with all the free lifetime updates (something that I understand most others don't have).  The Gentiles are the best and are always there to answer questions and help resolve problems that arise.  You can't beat that for customer service.

I highly recommend HST.

Dawn

ETA:  I'm not sure what you consider clunky far as visual.  It is a simple grid pattern.  I go for the features of lesson planner and transcript capabilities....again, not to mention the customer service and free updates for life.  Those last two alone would put visual to a second tier for me, but to each their own. ;)



Last Edited on: 5/18/08 11:50 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Subject: I use Edutrack--not happy
Date Posted: 5/19/2008 5:49 AM ET
Member Since: 7/19/2006
Posts: 181
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I own EduTrack and am not happy with it to be honest, for several reasons.

 

First it cost $60. Not cheap. When loading software updates sometimes the data gets lost. ACK!

 

I bought it in 2003 or 2004 and have used it on and off in between then and now. I find it very time consuming to use.

 

It is not very conducive to what I do. It wants a time on everything then it populates time spent. I know that is good for states that require teaching time or for high school transcripts. However to enter accurate infomration acorss days is time consuming. For example if my child reads 40 pages a day in a normal children's book with a topic of medieval history (i.e a book on the history of castles, or a historicla fiction book on medieval times), you have to categorize for each entry his grade, subject, and course. It doesn't make sense to call that one history chidren's book he read a 'course' since we read many living books on each 'course' per year. It would make sense though if he were using a big textbook for the entire school year to put that in the field but that is not the way we homeschool. I then put down things like "medieval history" for the course, then in the free text box have to write the book title, author and page numbers read.

The subjects which I use a curriculum for such as math, spelling, and Vocabulary I put in the 'course' is the name of the curriculum. Then in free text I put the lesson number completed.

It is a mess if you plan ahead and put data in so you anc print a schedule, then real life is different. It is time consuming to put in every single entry. Then if you miss a day of work you have to go in and bump every single entry up by one day. So let me be clear. I spent time up front putting in assignments. Then I have to go back in and make sure the dates and work done are what was truly done in real life. There is also not a clear way in the program to differentiate between the two. When I read my program I can't tell which was the plan vs. which was completed in real life. I guess if a person was using this ONLY for planning ahead of time and didn't care that it tracked actual work done on the real dates and the real work done it would be easier, then I could leave bogus data in the program.

 

I also had to spend a lot of time putting in my own courses. The intial set up is hard.

 

I guess my issue is I want it to reflect real life and work accomplished not just a PLAN for the future. In the beginning I was only using this to in put work already finished. That was not as bad but still data entry time consuming. And I type 85 words per minute!

 

The mess is when this year I tried to input the work in advance as especially for my 5th grader I wanted printable check sheets so he could follow his own schedule instead of always waiting for oral orders from me on what to do. I wanted him to start managing his own time, such as if he wanted to do 2 days of math on day one and then skip mat the next day.  However I then had to go in after and change all the dates around or shift the content to reflect what happened in real life. So in other words, I planned the work, inputted the plans ahead of time, printed the schedule. I then have to track what was actually done (on paper) and later go to the computer and edit the data in the system to show what really happened in real life, the time spent, or the grade recevied on that work.

 

When I asked the staff about tracking normal books for reading not just tracking textbooks or school in the box type of programs I was told to use the "unit study" feature. That is kind of a dumping ground feature that doesn't track time or dates. You just list the projects and books. It does not track the information in a detailed way and it is disappointing. I refuse to use the unit study feature as it stinks.

Their website is confusing. And they have a password system on the program itself and a different one on the website, these are not ones set up by me. They want my serial numbers etc. and it is not at all user friendly  as I keep not being able to log in. Note I have no problem on the myriad of other sites I am on with my own user name and my own chosen password.

In order to get software updates you have to keep buying them. This adds up over time.

I have three friends who use HomeschoolTracker and love it. I have no idea if I would like it or not. I resisted changing over as I already know this EduTrack and paid so much for it and I was on a tight budget for years. I have gone back to just using a spiral paper notebook and putting the work in as it is done and completed, using no preprinted schedule. I just gave up. The notebook system is messy and hard to see in a nice way, all the work done. So I yearn for a system that is better than EduTrack.

 

One friend of mine uses Homeschool Tracker for planning ahead of time. She then prints it off, puts the paper in a binder and the kids use a highlighter to highlight the work done. No dates are recorded for what was done on what date (they are always behind as the mom's plans are unrealistic). That mom never puts into the computer the work that was done. She keeps her records then on paper only.

The salespeople at the HS conferences are very friendly and say this program is the best ever. I completely disagree and feel like they are on a completely different planet than I'm on when they say that.

I'm hugely disappointed in EduTrack to say the least.



Last Edited on: 5/19/08 5:54 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 5/19/2008 9:07 AM ET
Member Since: 3/20/2007
Posts: 931
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Dawn - Thanks for your input.  Since I'm highly visual, that is always the #1 thing for me - with curriculum and tools.  Also, my DH programs MS Access for me, using Visual Basic, and I'm used to having everything just the way I want it, and customizable.

Christine - Thank you for your wonderful, long reply on ET!  I rec'd the demo disc over the weekend and it's already been very "buggy" - DH had to trick it into running, because it won't run with MS Office 2007 - it installs a "Office12/2k" version on top of our Office, so then it messed up all our Office applications.  NOT FUN!!!

I was very disappointed in Edu-Track just from the 10 minutes DH and I set it up - there were TONS of inputting errors.  DH could use it as a base, and then tweak it for me using VB, but that's most likely against the user agreement.  He doesn't have time to make me a complicated system in Access, so that's why we thought we'd purchase one.

ET is *supposed* to do a lot of things - so yes, on paper, it looks great.  I'm **so** glad you told me about the issues above.  While we have a general plan, my many medical issues, and my DD's issues (she's in PS), can throw us off track quite a bit.  I'm so used to the flexibility of K12's system, that ET, as you describe it, would upset me a LOT!!!!  Thank you for saving me that heartache!!!!!

JC