And Again About Planners and Record Keepers- A Review of Applecore

I confessed my homeschool planner addiction when I reviewed and compared all of the (many) planners I’ve tried over the years in this post.

So, I’ve given up on the idea of ever finding a planner I love.  But next year I have a child heading into high school. As much as I love keeping our records (and I feel like I’m good at it), I am facing the high school years with fear. I know that next year I will need to keep track of our transcript hours.  I know I also need a good record of grades.  I’ve not been one to give very many grades as we’ve gone through our homeschool years.  I could write a whole post on my feelings about grades and their use in traditional school, but I will not digress.  Anyway, I know I need to keep good records as we head into the homeschool years.

I’ve considered using a planning software for record keeping purposes.  So far, I’ve liked the records that Homeschool Tracker keeps.  And I’ve been tempted to subscribe for that alone- even if I don’t want to use the planner.

Last week, I heard (through the homeschooling grapevine- The Homeschool Lounge actually) about a new homeschool record keeping software: Applecore.  The words “record keeping” sparked my interest, and I headed to the site right away.

The cost is reasonable.  There are several plans to choose from.  There is no free trial, but there is a short informational video.  It is not designed to be a lesson planning program at this point- just a record keeping program.  It allows you to track grades, attendance, extra-curricular activities, and transcript hours for each student. I signed up to try it out.  Here is what I think so far.

What I like:
* I like that there are several payment options and ways to try out the program.  You can pay the least amount, and give it a spin with the basic version to see if you like it.
* The intro. screen at start up was pretty self-explanatory, and I was soon able to see how to enter my students and set up their courses.
* Besides a grade entry/report card, there is a portfolio option for each student, so extra-curricular activities can be recorded.
* I was able to enter all four of my children on one membership, and as far as I know there would be an unlimited number of students that could be entered.
* All of the student reports- grades, attendance, schedule, and portfolio can be printed, so I can have a hard copy.
* There is a very good “Help” section with information and screen shots of how to enter information into each section.
* I sent an email asking some questions, and I received answers quickly.  The customer service/support seems very good.

What I don’t like:
* There is no free trial/tour/sample.  I think many folks will have a hard time signing up without seeing exactly what they are paying for.  The quick video on the web site gives only a very brief overview.
* There is nothing to tell how to get started until you find and click on the “Help” section.  If you are computer challenged, you may miss this entirely and not know how to navigate.
* As of now there is no way to enter attendance for multiple kids at one time.  I did ask about this feature and was told that was a good idea and may be considered.  I have four children, and I know many homeschoolers have more.  It is somewhat frustrating to have to open an attendance page for every child every day.
* There seems (and I could just be missing it) to be no way to add each individual grade and identify whether it is weighted as a quiz, test, daily grade, etc.  The grade entry seems to be only for the course’s final grade to  enter for printing the report card.  I really would like a “grade book” style where I could enter each grade daily, indicate how it was weighted and have the program calculate the final grade.
* There are many places I don’t seem to have options.  For example, I’d like the option to set up my quarters for the school year.  I don’t use regular semesters, but that seems to be the only option I have here.  I’d like the option to give number grades or S/U/N grades.

The verdict:
This seems to have some potential as a record keeping software.  I am interested to see how it develops as more and more homeschoolers try it.  I think, for the cost, there could be some benefit in having the records kept in an “official” way online easy to access. I am not convinced that I like this more than what I am keeping myself, but I am really picky.

If you’re not naturally a good record keeper and you’re looking for something inexpensive and complete that is just for record keeping and not planning, you might want to check out Applecore.

I received a free subscription of this software and agreed to give an honest review.  All opinions expressed are entirely my own.

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