Crew Review: Math911
Upper level math can be a challenge to teach. I know that I feel more comfortable teaching high school subjects when I am more of a mentor and provide accountability. I appreciate having someone else do the hard work of teaching and explaining topics such as “simplify a rational function” or “graphing linear Inequalities in two variables.” I can use all the help I can get. Math911 is a complete Introductory Algebra Course. The Premier versions also include some Intermediate Algebra, College Algebra, Trigonometry, Pre-Calculus and Statistics topics.
In A NutShell:
- Product Name: Math911 (This is the same software as Algebra In A Flash)
- The Professor: Martin Wiessmann
- The format: software that you download
- The Cost: Student Special is $49.95 for any of the Premier Versions, Free for the regular standard version
- The Website: www.math911.com
Installing: I had no problems setting up Math911. I downloaded the program via the link on the left hand side of the website. I initially installed the software on my laptop running Windows 7. I did have to “run as admin” when installing upgrades, (this is mentioned on the website) but otherwise it ran fine. I experienced a hard drive failure during the review period. Professor Weissman quickly responded with the best course of action for me to get a new setup. This time I used our family room desktop computer which uses Windows XP. I had no problems installing and setting up the program the second time either.
Once the program is installed, you must register the product. The registration codes and instructions are available through the main menu. Math911 will send you activation codes which upgrades the free product to the Premier Version.
If you will be using the program with multiple users you’ll want to use the Password Premier version. The passwords are generated from the date you select. In his email, Professor Weissman suggested we use birthdays (month/day) to make it easier to remember. Also grading files are created based on the name/date entered.
You will see the following screen when you open the program. If you are using standard regular version (FREE), you will only see this screen once. If you are using the Premier Version for one user, you will only see this screen once, but if you are using it with Password Premier then you will see it each time you open the program.
I expressed interest in this product because my oldest daughter wants to study Trig and Pre-Calc. I had hoped that those topics would be as complete and full as the Intro to Algebra course. Unfortunately, they are not. They are selected topics. The Statistics module has been expanded since the review period began.
I found these things frustrating:
- To change “courses” required the program to close and be manually reopened. For most people this would not be an issue but if you were working through Trig topics and also wanted to work on Stat topics it could get tedious.
- while in the program, there is no way to minimize the window. To get to the computer desktop you must exit the program. This means that I could not easily use other resources such as videos to help me understand the concepts.
- no instruction or explanation provided other than the step by step solutions. Yes there are step by step solutions for every problem but those did not always explain what I needed to know.
- can not use the keyboard with the calculator. When you open the calculator you must use the mouse, not the keyboard and you must click the OFF button before entering your answer.
- This is minor but it still annoyed me: I could not click enter to get a new problem. After typing in my answer and hitting enter, I needed to switch to the mouse to click on new problem.
Some features I love:
- This is a mastery approach program. The student will be presented with the same type of problems until they are mastered.
- Step by Step solutions. Though I don’t feel these are *enough* of an instruction, I do love that each and every problem has step by step solutions available..
- Helpful Tips. A little “talk bubble” will sometimes pop up with a tip such as “use the up arrow key to indicate an exponent” or “use the up and down arrows to move between the denominator and numerator”
- The customer service and tech support is outstanding. I had a technical issue (a section of topics would not allow me to input my answers). Professor Weismann responded with a link to an update to the program that resolved the issue. Every time I emailed Professor Weissman from the first “here are my registration codes” through the “ what should do I do to set up the program since my hard drive failed” he was prompt, courteous and helpful.
Thoughts from HoneyBear (Dad): Because we were given the Premier Password version of the program I was able to ask multiple family members to try this out. I asked my husband to try a few sections. This is what he had to say:
“I would need an additional resource to help me understand the whys of the steps or why I would use a specific formula for the problem. The step by step solutions didn’t help me to understand how I was to arrive at the answer.”
Thoughts from BooBear (age 17): “It’s good for practice but I really need something that can explain what I am doing. I can’t just look at the step by step solutions. I need someone to explain it.”
Thoughts from Turtlegirl (age 15): “I really liked it. I like the step-by-step solutions, because they made it easier for me to understand what they were doing and how to get the answer. I like the little tips it will sometimes give you, to explain how to do something in the answer box, like type an exponent. I liked that I could go from section 1 to other sections without having to complete the entire section. I liked that it would automatically move you to the next level after you had mastered the first. I really enjoyed it. It works very well for me and my learning style.” [Mom note: Turtlegirl is nearly finished with Algebra 1 program and asked to use Math911. I think the program works so well for her because she has the Algebra instruction from the other program and the step by step solutions jog her memory. Although it should also be noted that she doesn’t require or need as much instruction as my husband, BooBear or myself.]
My Bottom Line: I tried this program out for myself using the College Algebra topics. I found that I could figure out how to solve most of the problems using the step by step solutions but that I still didn’t understand what I was doing or why I was doing it. I think this program would a great choice for students like Turtlegirl who don’t seem to need as much of the “why”. I think this would also be good for students who have access to additional instruction if needed. You can try the program for free to see if it would be a good fit for your family.
You can view additional screen shots of Math911 on the website. These screen shots are from previous versions of Math911 but should help give an idea of what the program looks like. The Menu screen shot is very different on the website so I’ll include my own:
Disclaimer: As a TOS Crew member, I received the download of Math911 free of charge to review. I am required to write a review but I am not required to write a positive review. This review contains my and/or my daughters’ honest opinion with, hopefully, enough detail as to why I/ we liked or did not like a product so that my readers can make an informed decision. I received no compensation.
You can read my other Schoolhouse Review Crew Reviews by clicking here.