"And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." ~Romans 12:2 NKJV~

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Aleks: web-based Math program

I recently learned of a web-based program that acts like a personal tutor called ALEKS. ALEKS (Assessment & LEarning in Knowledge Spaces) is an "artificially intelligent assessment and learning system". Right now from my understanding it's main focus is on Math. It is individualized learning geared to helping kids in grades 3-12. Upon signing up for the program they have your child take an assessment test to see how much he or she already does or doesn't know. You also get a parent "master" account (to view your child's progress and such) and a student account for your child to use to log onto the website. If you have more than one child, you will have to sign each one up for their own individual student account in order to keep track of their work individually. After they see how much your child knows they come up with a program designed to help him or her work on areas that they have not mastered yet. They have a pie chart set up to show you what areas in Math your child has already mastered and how much he has to go to master other areas. This would make an idea program for homeschooling parents who are struggling to teach their child Math.
Each time your child logs on there will be a lesson ready for her or him that day. Be sure you have the latest version of Java installed on your computer. Your child will need it in order to properly log in to do the lessons. There's an option to select from the pie chart wherever you want him or her to start. It's very user friendly to navigate around and goes at your child's pace. There is a quick video tour to watch if you want to see more what the ALEKS program is about. The cost of the program per student is $19.95 a month, $99.95 every 6 months, or $179.95 every 12 months. They even offer family discounts too. If you like the video tour and want to try it out, why not sign up for a Free 1 month trial here.
Now that I have given you a brief overview of the program here is my take on it. I personally don't think ALEKS is for my family. We use Math U See with my son now because he's a special needs child. With ALEKS he could not do most of it on his own because several instructions would be too vague for him to comprehend. Instead of the program being his tutor I kept having to sit there and be the tutor myself. That's one of the reasons I started homeschooling him to begin with. I got tired of having him come home from school with me having to do the "teacher's job". I know better than anyone else how he learns. Another problem we kept running into was not being able to log on at certain times of the day because their system server was overloaded from too many people being on at one time. This interrupted what our curriculum plans were for the day. I like to keep a flow through our work day because my son needs the consistency of his daily and weekly schedule. By the time I was able to finally get on the site my son was finished with school already, and would get upset if I tried to do it when it wasn't Math time even though he loves being on the computer. Maybe when he's older and needing help with more difficult Math then I'll consider ALEKS again. For now we will stick to using Math U See because my son really likes it and finally considers Math to be one of his favorite subjects.
Update: I was given another opportunity (in the Fall) to review this for them again. This time around I did not have the same problem mentioned above when I said "Another problem we kept running into was not being able to log on at certain times of the day because their system server was overloaded from too many people being on at one time.". Everything worked as it should have. :)

Disclaimer: The views and opinions written are entirely my own. Being a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I was not paid to write this review but received the product free of charge to review and give my honest opinion.

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