I have yet to dive into any serious planning but I have set up the logins for each student and begun adding and organizing information a bit at a time. The book list feature makes me giddy with happiness. I can type in book information manually or type the title into a search feature. In a snap, I've got the book info logged and I can drop the title into any book list I've created. Then... I can print out my lists all neat and tidy at the end of the year to put into portfolios. The program organizes it for me. *sigh* Lovely.
Here is a screen shot of an individual book page. I selected the "search for new" option, typed in the title (Catholic Comparative New Testament), and the program did the rest for me.
The screen shot below shows the results of my first day of book list tinkering. The master book list. I just picked up every book within two feet of me (yes, we swim in books) and started typing titles into the search feature. This can also be done with movies, software, websites, or other resources you use and want a record of.
I have only tried a couple online planning programs (I could not use any of the PC compatible software) in the past and found them rather difficult to use. They were not particularly useful for our more flexible approach and I found myself trying to conform my school to a particular (and uncomfortable) planning method. We are largely literature-based (hence, the book list joy!) and OLLY looks like it will provide a way for me to organize and plan according to my own style and school personality.
One of my favorite features is the Yearbook, which allows me to drop in photos of events, activities, or whatever we want, and then add text. It's a quick, intuitive way to make sure that we have an outstanding portfolio of achievement for our non-traditional approach.
I love paper. I love writing out calendars and book lists and plans. But I gotta tell you, I'm overwhelmed by the paper. I waste a lot of it. I lose it. I forget to make copies. I run out of printer ink. I do think that this program is going to be a breakthrough in my day-to-day operations.
Each child has a personal login so it's not just about mom. I anticipate that my older students (or at least my high school student) will be using this program on a daily basis, if not as a primary planner, at least to mark attendance and get an overview of expectations.
I have found the OLLY website to be extremely helpful. They have a very nice How-To section, including instructional videos, and a forum for OLLY users.
There is an option to try out the program for one month, free of charge. After that, you pay $40 for unlimited use on all of your computers. Some other programs do make that an annual fee so I'm inclined to think that OLLY is a great value if you like the program. The good folks there did agree to provide me with a complimentary download in exchange for my honest review throughout the year... but after my brief experience, I would not hesitate to make the purchase. I will update again after I have had a little more experience with the actual planning.