2/14/12

TOS Review: ALEKS (Online Math)

I love math.  I don’t, however, love teaching it.  I feel as though I’ve been on a quest to find a math program that meets the needs of my students and does the teaching for me.  It’s possible I have found the answer: ALEKS.

What is ALEKS?
Assessment and LEarning in Knowledge Spaces is an online mathematics program that provides personalized learning and assessment tailored to a student's individual needs. Using artificial intelligence and adaptive, open-response questioning, ALEKS quickly and accurately determines what a student knows and is most ready to learn within a course.

This online math course offers courses from 3rd grade through post high school. I was provided a two month free trial for each of my children who could use ALEKS, along with a master account.  They even encouraged me to create a student account for myself so I did!  I’ve been working my way through the Algebra II course while BooBear age 16 (11th grade) has focused on Mastery of SAT Math.  Turtlegirl is working her way through Algebra I and Tailorbear is studying Middle School Math Course 2. 

A student accesses her coursework through the the MyPie tab. As the student masters each topic, the pie fills up.

ALEKS automatically assigns assessments periodically to determine a student’s progress.  ALEKS adjusts the MyPie chart to reflect this progress.  If a student misses a question the topic will reappear in the chart. These assessments typically occur after the student has completed roughly 20 topics.

One of the pluses of ALEKS is that it adapts to the students.  ALEKS will only make available topics for which you are ready.  If you have not mastered a topic, it will not let you proceed.  On the other hand if you are struggling with a concept it will not allow you to continue that session but instead will encourage you to try another concept and come back to the difficult one at another time. 

ALEKSNoTopics

Another aspect that all of us appreciated was the notes of encouragement.  After completing a problem correctly you will see Good Job! or Very Good.  The student is told something like “Very Good, if you answer correctly two more times without help, I will add this topic to you your pie.” How many times a student must practice a topic before ALEKS will add it to the Pie depends on factors such as how many times the student asked for an explanation or whether the student got the answer correct.

I love that ALEKS is a mastery based program and that it includes review.  When a student first logs in s/he will be greeted with “Here are some topics you may want to review”.  I don’t like that the student can skip these by just clicking on the My Pie icon however, I do like that they can click on the review icon at anytime and review any topic.

ALEKS Review

Here are some thoughts from my children using ALEKS:

Thoughts from BooBear (Mastery of SAT Math): “ALEKS is OK. I’m not sure that it’s my most favorite math program. I wish it had an auditory option for explaining problems instead of just reading.  I’d appreciate having video explanations so that I could see and hear a problem being worked out.”

Thoughts from Turtlegirl (Algebra 1): “I really like ALEKS. It allowed me to go at my own pace and move as fast or as slow as I needed to. It also made sure that I actually knew the topic either through review or another assessment.  I liked the fact that I could choose from any available topics and if I needed a break I could go work on a different topic and not have to wait until I finished the first one.  ALEKS is a really good fit for me.  I wand my mom to buy it for me. It’s an awesome program.”

Thoughts from Tailorbear (Middle School Course 2): “It was good it challenged me. It was cool.  I liked the Pie Chart because it let me see.  I could see my progress.  I like trying to fill up the pieces. I wish I could keep using ALEKS for math.”

There are far more features of ALEKS than I can talk about in this review so I would encourage you to take a tour of ALEKS or check out the different courses they offer. 

ALEKS offers monthly ($19.95), 6 month ($99.95), and annual subscriptions($179.95).  ALEKS also offers family discounts for multiple children.

I only reviewed Junior High/High School level courses. Please visit the TOS Crew blog to read reviews from my fellow crewmates who have reviewed a variety a of levels.

Click on the banner below to read what my fellow crew mates had to say about ALEKSPhotobucketAll information is correct and accurate as of the date of this review.

Disclaimer: As a TOS Crew member, I received a two-month free trial to review. This review is my honest opinion with, hopefully, enough detail as to why I liked or did not like a product so that my readers can make an informed decision. I received no compensation.

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