Thursday, August 20, 2009

ALEKS - Online Math

Aleks Logo

What is ALEKS?

The following quote came from the people at ALEKS. "The acronym ALEKS stands for Assessment and Learning in Knowledge Spaces. It is a Web-based, artificially intelligent assessment and learning system."

Wow! that is a mouthful. ALEKS, to me, is an online, complete math program you can use with your children. You choose the level you think your child should start with. They will assess their current knowledge and then choose what things they should learn next.

Note: the screenshots below came from ALEKS and are not the ones from my kids account, with the exception of the e-mail from Christopher and the Create a Quiz screenshots. They are, I assure you, a very accurate picture of what my kids and I have found in using the program.
Below you will find a description of the essentials this program offers:

Student Account - these are some of the features the student gets to see and use.

Student Assessment
Assessment: Students begin in ALEKS by taking an individualized, adaptive assessment to determine what they already know and what they are ready to learn next.

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My Pie: The ALEKS Pie summarizes a student's current knowledge and offers topics that the student is ready to learn next. The darkened portion of each pie slice represents the topics that the student has mastered and the lighter portion represents what the student has yet to learn.

Christopher is trying to get as much of his pie done as he can. This is a great motivation to my kids. To see what they know and what they have left to cover to "graduate" to the next level.

Student Graphing Tool
Input Tools: ALEKS provides a free response environment and sophisticated input tools that avoid multiple choice and require students to demonstrate content mastery. Christopher loves the tools, especially the protractor.

Student Problem Two
Learning Mode: The Learning Mode provides students with practice problems, and offers explanations of topics and procedures as needed. Once a student has demonstrated mastery in the Learning Mode, the item is added to the ALEKS Pie, and new material that the student is now ready to learn becomes available.

One of the features Nathan likes most is the dictionary. In the lesson you can click on green underlined words to see what they mean. Nathan also likes the Explain button. If you are stuck on a certain type of problem it will tell you how to do that type of problem, then you can go on with your lesson.

Student Feedback
Feedback: Students receive immediate feedback and, in some cases, suggestions for correcting mistakes. This is very helpful. I have been having a hard time getting my son Christopher to always reduce his fractions. I am hoping using this program will help him with this problem in particular. Immediate grading of each problem in the lessons makes it so the kids learn the correct way to do their math and helps them progress well. One of the things I was lax in last year was grading the boys math and so they, and I, did not know what they were getting wrong which just compounds the problem of wrong thinking upon wrong thinking with their math. Daily grading and correcting of their math is one thing I am determined to keep up with this year.

Master Account - these are the features for the teacher/parent

Master Homepage
Master Account Homepage: Easily manage all student accounts, monitor student progress, view customized resources, and more. This is the part I use the most, of course: checking to see how much time the kids have spent doing their math, making quizzes for them, and checking their progress on the pie chart.

Teachers can see the same pie charts the student sees above with a few additions. The pie chart is especially useful. You can click on an arrow and see previous pie charts. See details of the other pages below.

Master Attendance Report
Attendance Report: Track student time spent in ALEKS per day, the topics attempted, and the topics mastered and added to the ALEKS Pie.

Master Progress Report
Student Progress Report: Track student progress made throughout the course. The blue bar represents the percent of course material that the student has mastered during an ALEKS assessment; the green bar represents the percent of new topics the student has mastered in Learning Mode since the last assessment; and the yellow bar represents the percent of topics the student has yet to learn in order to complete the course.

Create a Quiz
Taking the quiz... that is the students job... creating the quiz... that is Mom's job.
Click on the picture above to see a close up.

ALEKS makes it easy for mom's to create quizzes for their kids by including a button you can click to "Create a recent knowledge Quiz". This automatically creates a quiz based on information your student has recently been reviewing. You can, of course, do a quiz topic by topic, but this makes it so easy that I have done all the boys quizzes this way.

Master Quiz Results
Quiz Results: Quizzes are automatically graded and the results are available to both the parent and student immediately. An e-mail is sent to the parents inbox when the student has finished his quiz. View a detailed quiz results sample report (PDF).


One of the things the boys and I have enjoyed is the e-mail. We each have our own e-mail but using the e-mail in the math program has been fun.

Please click on the screen shot below so you can see the details of this e-mail my 12yo son sent to me.

This is the best sales pitch for ALEKS math. This was not fabricated. This was sent by my son on August 11th and I did not even start my review until this week. When you have a 12yo boy who not only likes to do his math but wants to do more quizzes... well what more can be said.

They do have a family discount program which gives you a discount for each additional student you enroll. My sons like this program... in fact my youngest son loves it! Unfortunately the cost is out of our price range, even with the family discount. The other thing that makes it hard to spend the money for this is the fact that there is no tangible book or program to hand down to younger children. The math programs we have used, except for High School math which we borrowed from a friend, have been used by all my children and handed down and reused and most of them were purchased used to start with.

ALEKS is a Research-Based Online Program:

  • Complete Curriculum Solution for Math with Access to Full Course Library
  • No Textbook Required
  • Artificial Intelligence Targets Gaps in Student Knowledge
  • Assessment and Individualized Learning for Grades 3-12
  • New and Improved Master Account - Includes Quizzing, Attendance Tracking, Automated Reports, and More
  • Unlimited Online Access - PC and Mac Compatible
  • QuickTables - Complimentary Math Fact Mastery Program for Multiplication, Division, Addition, and Subtraction

Out of five stars we give this program:

Since Christopher mentioned, in his e-mail to me, a problem we have with the program I will tell you what it is... the only problem we have is... the cost.

A subscription to ALEKS is

  • $19.95 per student, per month, or

  • only $99.95 every 6 months, or

  • only $179.95 every 12 months.

They do have a family discount program which gives you a discount for each additional student you enroll. My sons like this program... in fact my youngest son loves it! Unfortunately the cost is out of our price range, even with the family discount. The other thing that makes it hard to spend the money for this is the fact that there is no tangible book or program to hand down to younger children.

We love this program... wish we could afford to keep it going at least for Christopher... but we can't. If you only have one child, or your student is having a struggle with a certain portion of math, this may be a good solution. Or, if money is not a problem but math is, than this would be perfect for you!

But because of the cost I have to give this my break the bank icon.

ALEKS has been kind enough to offer a free 1-month trial ($19.95 value) to my blog readers who are homeschoolers. They only offer a 48-hour trial directly from their website so this is a special offer only for homeschoolers who are new users to ALEKS!

Visit ALEKS for 1-Month Trial

You can always click on the box, sign up for your free month, and see if you like it enough to put out the money. I wish we could afford to keep it going after our review period is over. Christopher will greatly miss it. We were all grateful to have been able to try ALEKS Math and if our financial situation changes in the future a subscription to ALEKS is one thing I will be putting at the top of my wish list.

I hope you enjoyed this review,
I hope you will consider ALEKS math,
It truly is a great product,


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