Monday, December 13, 2010

TOS Product Review: ALEKS


ALEKS, or Assessment and LEarning in Knowledge Spaces, is an online math program that is designed to assess exactly what a student needs to learn and provide instruction accordingly.  Their aim is to increase student retention and performance by providing individualized and customized lessons in the areas that a student most needs help.  When your student begins the program they are tested to see which concepts they understand and just where they need improvement.  After the assessment, the student’s log on page will have a pie chart that shows the lessons they need to attempt.


The student can choose from several pie “slices” with various math topics, such as measurement and time, fractions, multiplication, etc.  The topics in their individual pie are determined by their grade level and assessment results.  When they hover the mouse over the topic, they are then given links to different lessons within that topic.  Once they show that they have mastered the lesson, their pie slice will be shaded accordingly.  Once all lessons in a math topic are mastered the pie slice will be completely shaded in.

The student does have the option of choosing which pie slice to tackle each time they log on, and can also tackle more than one topic or slice.  In other words, they do not have to master any one topic before moving on to another, which may help with boredom or frustration.  Topics that have  already been mastered are also offered for review when a student logs on to their “homepage” for the day to help keep concepts fresh in a student’s mind.

IU_Master_QuickTour_004_small Once the student chooses a topic they are directed to “learning mode.”  In learning mode they answer questions on the chosen topic, but can also click the “explain” button to get detailed instruction on the topic.  They are given the chance to practice what they have learned and get immediate feedback and suggestions from a customizable character if they get a problem wrong.  As you can see, ALEKS is designed for independent learning.  The program is easy to access and maneuver and provides detailed instruction with rich graphics and even links to definitions of unfamiliar words.

IU_Master_QuickTour_007_small Students can also generate worksheets for additional practice, customized and related to the student’s own pie topics.


When you register your student with ALEKS you create a Master Account.  With this account you can choose your student’s course and grade level, request assessments or create quizzes, and get detailed progress reports and a history of their activity on the program.  While you don’t have to be “hands on” during actual lessons, you are definitely on top of your student’s math progress.

ALEKS has many courses available for elementary, middle school, high school, and even higher level instruction.  There is a detailed chart with suggestions for picking the right course for your child.   When you click on the link for a course you get a very detailed description of exactly what the course covers, and how many topics are available for each subject covered.  They also offer QuickTables, a math fact mastery program for multiplication, division, addition and subtraction.  QuickTables is designed like the main program to assess a student’s knowledge and offer lessons accordingly.  

Ds3 and I got to try out ALEKS for one month free for this review.  I signed him up for Mathletics, Level 4, which came with QuickTables.  The assessment did not take long, and I liked how it didn’t just ask for an answer but also gave the option of “I haven’t learned this yet.”  I liked how I could customize QuickTables as well, limiting the multiplication drills to what ds and I had covered already.  Ds was impressed with the online learning tools, especially the interactive ruler he used during measurement lessons. 



An individual subscription to ALEKS is $19.95 a month, $99.95 for 6 months, or $179.95 for 12 months.  They do offer a family membership discount. 

I was given a one month subscription to ALEKS to facilitate this review.  To see other TOS Crewmember reviews, click on the banner below.




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