Wednesday, April 23, 2014

General Tech Tool: ALEKS

Assessment and LEarning in Knowledge Spaces, better known as ALEKS, is a tool I am quite familiar with using, as we have been using it to support our math curriculum for the last three years. ALEKS has been used by our teachers and students as an independent curriculum and as a supplement to blended classrooms.


Name of Tech Tool: ALEKS

Brief Description of Tech Tool: From their website: 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. As a student works through a course, ALEKS periodically reassesses the student to ensure that topics learned are also retained. ALEKS courses are very complete in their topic coverage and ALEKS avoids multiple-choice questions. A student who shows a high level of mastery of an ALEKS course will be successful in the actual course she is taking.
ALEKS also provides the advantages of one-on-one instruction, 24/7, from virtually any Web-based computer for a fraction of the cost of a human tutor.

Technical Costs & Considerations: ALEKS is a subscription based service with a variety of subscription options, each with their own price point: Ordering and Subscriptions. Some courses require Java, while others are accessible to a wide range of operating systems including iPads

Additional Information

ALEKS can be used as a standalone curriculum or in conjunction with your own curriculum. ALEKS has been successful in K-12 and in Higher Ed scenarios, as well as homeschool use. Teachers can align ALEKS use to their current textbooks and curriculum along with the CCSSM and set specific learning goals for the student. Teachers can also create their own quizzes with specific topics, or select assessments that cover recently completed material or the whole course.

Students do well working around their pie like a clock and working from top-to-bottom within each pie slice. As we all know, mathematics tends to build on itself and while students may be successful jumping from one slice to the next, they will likely reach a point where they can no longer access certain pie pieces because they do not have the prerequisite knowledge to continue on.

ALEKS provides open ended questions that require students to work on developing their skills, instead of simply guessing and checking with multiple choice questions. Students can use the "Explain" feature (which is customizable by teachers) to walk through the steps of each problem.

Helpful Links from ALEKS:

How ALEKS Supports and Supplements PBL/PrBL
ALEKS is another great tool to support a blended-PBL mathematics classroom. I use this tool as my procedural practice for my students, and I supplement that procedural practice with both PrBL and PBL in the classroom. I find that my students are able to easily use the system and enjoy working at their own pace. ALEKS provides the procedural practice and ACT prep that I would otherwise have a difficult time implementing in a PBL classroom. While there are no multiple choice questions, students are getting exposure to story problems and procedural practice problems similar to those that they see on high-stakes testing, which alleviates some of the trepidations teachers have when moving to a PBL/PrBL modeled mathematics classroom.