Monday, December 13, 2010

Aleks Math Program: A Review


As a member of the Old Schoolhouse Review Crew, Aleks gave me a free one-month subscription to their web site. I am obligated to provide you with an honest review. I received no compensation for this review.

What is Aleks?????
Assessment and LEarning in Knowledge Spaces is a Web-based, artificially intelligent assessment and learning system. ALEKS uses adaptive questioning to quickly and accurately determine exactly what a student knows and doesn't know in a course. ALEKS then instructs the student on the topics she is most ready to learn.

In my words: ALEKS is a computer based math program suited for students from grade 3 through 12th. There is even higher education available on their website. It can be used on a pc or Mac.

Honestly, this has been my most difficult item to review all year. When you are happy with your current math program, there is a natural resistance to try something new. When you are dealing with small technical problems, it is easy to cop an attitude. So when we jumped in, we had three bad attitudes. One adult and two students.

The technology is fascinating. I was amazed at how it worked. I wish I could say my children shared my zeal. You see there is a learning curve as you start a new program. Math has always been done with a paper and pencil around here, and preferably done in the head. Making a switch to doing math on a computer using was tricky despite the excellent explanations throughout the program. To be fair, the program has an excellent approach to holding the user's hand through each step of course. 

How we used it:

At first I almost missed the whole point, I only signed up Random for the Quicktables. This is a fast paced review of the times and division tables. I assumed(bad Mommy) he would wrap this up in a short time and we would move on to a math course. This lasted for more than 2 weeks and I realized that we would not have time to really try a full course if he didn't finish soon. I had to cancel the Quicktables program and begin the Algebra Readiness course. The assessment brought him close to tears of frustration. This coupled with the fact that he had already done his other math program that day created for a sour experience.

I decided to start Paperboy on it. He made it through the assessment. There were many moments of frustration during the actual test. Inputing fractions, exponents and numbers into the program was a source of stress for him. It was easy to make mistakes even with the support on each page. Once he began the program, he had more problems with it. When one mistake was found in a set of three problems, he did not know which problem was incorrect. He also felt annoyed having to redo all of the problems to figure out which was correct. He worked with the program, but never bonded with it. 

I had hoped this would be a hit as it could relieve my load of correcting papers. I did not have to correct their math and  I received progress reports directly via email. How cool is that?

Here is a sample of the Algebra pie from Paperboy's course
If you notice, he mastered 90 of the 257 topics. 
I just love this. I like my kids to see how much they have accomplished and how much more they need to do. It is like a math journey where they can see the answer to "Are we there yet?"
The student gets to choose which subject they would like to tackle. As they master the fundamentals, they eventually move on to the most complex lessons. This lesson planning is ingenious.

Just because my boys didn't love it, doesn't mean it is not a great program. I think a younger child could run with a program like this. Once you overcome the input issues, the course is very thorough. I appreciate the aspect that once you master a concept, there will be a small amount of review, but you can choose whether you want to continue practicing a concept. 

Some more great points of Aleks:
  • The abiltiy to create worksheets, this is great if one  if you cannot be at a computer. Some days we need to bring work on the road with us, not a computer.
  • Visual results, the pie chart shows mastery of the course.
  • There is no drill and kill, the students moves quickly through the concepts.
  • Anytime a term is not understood, there is an explanation available
  • The customer support is almost immediate, my login problems were answered before I had a chance to ask the questions.
  • I know I already mentioned this but it needs repeating. The program corrects the work for you, woo hoo.
  • It is priced very fairly, with discounts for multiple students. You receive individualized instruction at a fraction of the cost of a human tutor.  A subscription to ALEKS for an individual student is:
    • $19.95 per month 
    • only $99.95 for 6 months!   Six months for the cost of five
    • only $179.95 for 12 months!   Best Deal: You save $59.45 

Stop by the Crew blog and see what others have said about Aleks. Now, I want you to be a thrifty homeschooler and not just run over to their site and jump in. Use this button below to try it for yourself for free. You will discover a whole new way to teach math. 

Visit ALEKS for 1-Month Trial

I welcome reader comments with open arms. I also understand if you aren't the commenting or hugging type of person, you can drop me an email at


ssmurray5 said...

This sounds like an interesting math program! I would like to try it.

Lori Watson said...

Good thorough review. It wasn't a fit for our family either (we reviewed it last year or the year before) but many people love it!