Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Review: Aleks (a revisit)

Those of you that followed my reviews last year may recall my review on Aleks, a web-based service that utilizes artificial intelligence for comprehensive math instruction for grades 3-12. . Aleks wasn't new to our family at the time; we've used it as a supplement in the past. Still, it was nice to revisit the program for the review. You can read last year's review here.

I've been asked to revisit Aleks once again as part of the 2009-2010 TOS Crew. Specifically, I was to take a look at some changes made to the Master Account features based on customer feedback.

One of the positives of using Aleks is that students have the opportunity to independently learn mathematics. In the past, the overseeing parent or teacher had access to progress reports or could visually view progress on a pie chart, a unique feature of Aleks. Parents could also request an assessment test at any time and reassess the students placement. All of these features are still available. However, two new features have been added to assist parents and teachers in utilizing this program even more, while still maintaining independent learning.

The first is the attendance record. Rather than a running total of weekly time spent and items learned per hour, parents can now view daily records. A click of a button give a daily breakdown of how long the student logged in, how many topics were attempted and how many topics were mastered during that time. At a glance, it can quickly be determined if little Johnny is moving through the material, stuck on a concept or is perhaps sneaking time IMing friends or playing World of Warcraft rather than mastering new topics while still logged in to Aleks. Not that any of us have disobedient children(!), but extra accountability is always a good thing.
The other added feature is the ability to set up quizzes for your student. Different from the random or requested assessments, which can be quite lengthy, parents have more control over the quiz length and content. Parents can select content and number of questions to appear on the quiz. Once the student takes the quiz, parents can view results and even create a printable report of the quiz questions and answers. Click here for a sample printable quiz report. Below is how the results page appears.

I'm always impressed with companies that not only take the time to talk and get feedback from users, but who actually listen and implement changes to their product as a result. The new attendance and quiz features are nice additions to the program and help busy homeschooling parents to get the most out of the program.

A subscription to ALEKS is
  • $19.95 per student, per month, or

  • $99.95 every 6 months, or

  • $179.95 every 12 months.
Visit the Aleks website to find out more. There is a free 48-hour trial on the website, but Aleks has a special offer to new users for an extended trial. Click below to find out more.

Visit ALEKS for 1-Month Trial

Also be sure to read the full reviews of the new 2009-2010 Crew members who are giving Aleks a try in their homeschool for the first time at the TOS Crew official blog.

Disclaimer: This review was provided as a result in my participation in The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Crew, a team of 100+ homeschooling parents. While the product was provided at no expense to me in order to provide this review, I have not received any other compensation. Furthermore, receipt of the product does not guarantee a positive review. I strive to give a balanced overview of each product, detailing my opinion of both pros and cons and how the product worked for my family. What works for one family may not work for another. I encourage you to read reviews of other Crew members and research sufficiently to determine if any product will be a benefit to your homeschool.

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