Online learning platform and test prep resource Shmoop has launched a series of new courses across a broad academic spectrum.
New courses include modern world history, African American Poetry, Introduction to Photoshop, Planning and Achieving College and Career Goals, and Mathematics I. Students can use these courses to get ahead, to catch up, or as a template for home schooling.
A description of Shmoop’s new history course shows the unique approach that blends academic content with an entertaining style:
… starting with the rise of democracy and ending with… today. With intros, readings, and a wide array of projects, quizzes, and activities, students will be able to identify major turning points in history, analyze the impact of modern wars, and sniff out the roots of current world issues. Spoiler alert: There are lots of ’em.
Mathematics II and III are scheduled to follow Mathematics I, according to Joshua Bolkan of THE Journal. These math courses are integrated, meaning that students learn a bit about algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and calculus each year rather than each subject all at once.
David Siminoff, who founded Shmoop in 2009, said:
Shmoop’s courses aren’t your run-of-the-mill online offerings. We offer substance. Depth. Emotion. Combined with our sound pedagogy, that’s what students and teachers are looking for.
Shmoop’s existing offerings for middle and high school consist of test prep, college guides, career advice, and courses. Courses include topics like citation, AP review, African history, finance, study skills, an examination of Dr. Seuss, how to buy a car, Body Image and Eating Disorders, and dinosaurs. They also offer traditional subjects like math, science, English, and history, and a group of courses under the heading PBIS (Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports) teaches life skills, like positive attitude, organization, responsibility, and acceptance.
The website also includes free study guides and preparation for the ACT, SAT, PSAT, and AP exams. Its section on college prep offers checklists, application help, essay advice, and an interactive game designed to help students make solid college plans.
All of Shmoop’s courses include humor and are designed to click with students in grades 6 through 12.
Subscriptions to Shmoop can be individual or in bulk. Both kinds give users to access virtual classrooms and a grade book, allowing teachers and their students to track progress directly with the service. Teachers can adjust courses to fit their needs in their virtual classrooms, in which they can switch around units.
Common Sense Media rates Shmoop with 4-stars, saying that the site’s “real strength… is in its presentation. Instead of just offering endless pages of content, Shmoop breaks subjects down in fun ways.” CSM’s Graphite.org points out, however, that premium features — especially for teachers — may require a small purchase.