Monday, August 31, 2009

ALEKS - math program

ALEKS is a math program that can be used in multiple settings. It's like having a tutor in your own home. This program is great for an individual who is independent, takes instruction well and likes to work at their own pace.

I watched my kids work on this program for a few weeks now. Normally, they are quite independent although sometimes they need different types of instruction in order to fully understand something. All three kids complained that it was boring, but as I watched each child master a topic, I knew they were complaining about nothing. Yes, this program doesn't have videos, bells and whistles but it is comprehensive and challenging.

This program allows the parent to keep up with what's going on via e-mail progress reports and a master account that can control the student's progress. By sending weekly updates, the parent can see what topics have been learned, the hours spent on the progress and quizzes. The parent can print worksheets anytime for extra practice. The program generates these worksheets as a review and challenge of any topics covered. The parent can also schedule quizzes as needed.

Students also have the option of printing worksheets themselves and clicking "review" periodically to assure mastery of subjects. As their "pie chart" fills, they gain more confidence in themselves and their abilities. Even my son, who dreads math, has found several topics actually fun!

The program has what is known as Artificial Intelligence (AI). I decided to test this AI myself. I created a trial account for myself and went through the assessment after choosing a relatively low level. The AI picked up on my correct answers and proceeded to challenge me further. It finally got into things I had long forgotten since college. The only drawback here that I noticed is that it left me on the low level but picked topics for me to challenge and teach me in the areas I was weak. I would have guessed that I tried to pick a level around 4th grade, but some of my topics were definitely higher than that. Not many 4th graders I know are already doing X,Y line plots on a graph to solve an equation.

For my family, it isn't budget family. Our looneybin has 3 kids, 2 adults and 1 dog. My husband is a pastor, so every penny counts. ALEKS can be purchased month-to-month for $19.95 per month, or $99.95 for 6 months, or $179.95 for 12 months. Family discounts are available for 6 and 12-month subscriptions when purchasing for multiple students. Even with the discounts, I can't justify this with my family. I will admit it is a great program and it will be missed when our trial runs out, but right now, we just will passing on this great offer. For everyone else who takes up this program and fully enjoys it to its fullest potential, I say, "May you have a full pie!"

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