Review of MathTV.com video lessons
I got to review three of the instructional math video CDs produced by MathTV.com: Basic Mathematics, Algebra 2, and Trigonometry. Note: This was at a time when the videos were offered on CDs. As of 2009, all MathTV.com videos are offered completely FREE of charge online, and they have lots more videos available.
MathTV.com videos are played on your computer. The idea is fairly simple: you watch a teacher solve math problems on the whiteboard. It's like sitting in a classroom and following the teacher; however this is better because you can rewind and replay the 'teacher' as much as you wish.
You see problems on the left, and the video clip on the right.
Each of the CDs covers a wide range of math topics and has extensive amount of video instruction. For example, Basic Mathematics is maybe 7th-8th grade level math, covering whole numbers, fractions, decimals, ratio, proportion, percent, integers, and introduction to very elementary equations. Algebra 2 CD has 9 chapters plus a Review chapter of basic properties and definitions. It covers topics from equations, inequalities, and various functions till sequences, series, and conic sections. Trigonometry CD has eight chapters and an appendix chapter, covering for example right triangle trigonometry, the unit circle, trigonometric equations and identities.
Besides these, MathTv.com offers Prealgebra, Algebra 1, and Word Problems videos. The Basic Mathematics and Prealgebra CD's are almost identical (no need to purchase both) - the difference is in the order of topics. These two CD's are also the best value, as they contain video solutions to the printable tests, as well as a "Study Guide" in PDF format.
Contents of chapter on equations and inequalities in two variables on MathTV.com CD Algebra 2. The clickable video is the motivational/introductory video clip for this chapter.
Each chapter has 5-8 topics and starts with a motivational video clip showing how some key concept from that chapter is used in society or science. There is also a printable chapter test for each chapter. I liked the motivational or introductory videos; they were cute and to the point.
For each topic within a chapter, there are typically 3-5 problems that are solved on the video clip. After viewing the example solutions, you can go to some practice problems.
The Word Problems CD include Motion problems, Variance problems, age problems, geometry problems etc. - all typical word problems one finds in an algebra course. Oftentimes McKeague uses tables for organizing information, which is a crucial aid for many algebra problems. This CD can be very helpful addition to any algebra textbook. You will get the most value out of it if you try solve the problems YOURSELF beforehand, and then watch the 'expert solution'.
These videos can be used along with any mathematics textbook or workbook you might have - though they seem to follow textbooks written by the instructor, Charles P. McKeague. They are 'companions' - not stand-alone instruction. In other words, you cannot learn everything about algebra or trig just by seeing the videos (though you might learn enough to pass a test). You still need your textbook to explain concepts, symbols, and the whys and wherefores of math. The video clips serve to give you examples of how a skilled teacher solves problems - step by step.
MathTV.com videos can be an excellent way for someone to review and practice 'forgotten' math - for example when needing to pass a test, or for whatever reason you might need to refresh your math.
BUT, they can also be an excellent help for homeschoolers, especially on high school level. Many times homeschooling moms struggle with teaching high school math because they might have forgotten it (when was the last time you solved some absolute value equations or played with trigonometric identities), or because they perhaps didn't learn it real well in the first place.
In those occasions, seeing a teacher solve problems step-by-step can be of great value. In textbooks, these steps are often explained in words, which is much more difficult to follow. Seeing and hearing it (repeatedly if you so wish) can help the learning process compared to just reading a textbook and trying to figure out what happened in each step.
The solutions to problems are quite mechanical, using the common rules. You won't probably find any 'creative' solutions. This is good when you're learning those tecniques and rules; but please note that the CDs do not contain explanations why these rules work or where they come from.
The instructor Charles P. McKeague is also an author of several math textbooks and an inspirational speaker. His style of teaching is very clear. The way he writes on the board and uses symbols is also very clear - concise, yet illustrative and helpful. I was delighted by the way he used notation when solving absolute value inequalities, for example.
Website: www.MathTV.com. Note: This review was written at a time when the videos were offered on CDs. As of 2009, all MathTV.com videos are offered completely FREE of charge online, and they have lots more videos available. The e-pass to access their ebooks, all videos, and XYZ homework is $30 for 12 months; print textbooks run $48 - $68 depending on the subject.
Review by Maria Miller, MSc, author of HomeschoolMath.net