Wednesday, September 1, 2010

TOS Review - Vantage Learning - My Access! Home Edition

We used Vantage Learning's My Access! Home Edition for a month in order to review the product for TOS Review Crew. Available for $99 for a 12 month subscription for up to 3 students or 6 students for $129.95, this is a guided writing program. The site includes a demonstration video as well as a parent manual and student manual. The program is for ages 8 - 18 and the assignments are broken up into age ranges - 8-10, 11-14, and 15-18.

My children are reluctant writers to put it very mildly. I knew that getting them to use this would not be easy - we hadn't 'officially' started school yet and they have a horrible time with fleshing out a topic. Registering and setting up the accounts was very easy. The site is easy to navigate and it is very easy to find help if needed.

I set up the oldest easily. The format is engaging and easy to navigate. The student is in training to become a reporter. In order to do this the student must learn the steps in the writing process and the grading rubric that is used with My Access!. Each step is re-enforced with a short quiz to make sure the student is comprehending the lesson.

Topics are listed by age levels - each level has a wide variety of topics - covering the different types of writing - informative, narrative and persuasive. The student can opt to go through the tutorial before the pre-writing process or start writing immediately.

The student types in their draft and then submits it for review. The program displays a graph - showing the student's progress and what they need to work on. My Revision plan is displayed and the student is lead step by step through the revision process. Optional are tutorials that help the student understand the need for revisions and what they might have left out of their essay. Drop down menus help the student revise his draft until it is polished into a product that meets the rubric requirements.

My oldest got very frustrated when we got to the actual writing part. This was harder to navigate and even though he could click on things for explanations he did not understand what the program was trying to tell him. He is dyslexic and any reading is difficult for him. The writing area doesn't operate the same as a word processing program and if he tabbed instead of using the indent button all of his work vanished. Unfortunately he refused to finish and the battle was not worth it.

We also had some intermittent connection issues that added to his frustration. I do believe this was our cable modem and NOT My Access!. My son, however, associated it with the program and I was unable to persuade him to use it further.

I experimented with the program myself in order to give a fair review of the product. The problems my son had are not typical of most learners - my son has dyslexia as well as autism and this makes both the process and the act of writing very difficult for him. The problems he had have nothing to do with the actual product.

I would highly recommend this product for a student who needs help polishing their writing into a finished product. It is well put together and easy to use. I believe it is well worth the price and if I had differently abled learners it would be on my must have list.

To see what others on the TOS Crew have to say about this product click here.

Disclaimer/Disclosure: I was given use of this product for the purpose of obtaining my honest opinion. I received nothing else. This is my honest opinion. Please consider that every family is different and results may vary.


One Mom said...

Great review. I'm following you now!

Tess said...

Peggy, I completely agree that this program is great for those who need to work on polishing skills and I can see how it can lead to frustration for those who struggle with writing. I think you did an excellent job with the review! ~Tess from the crew

Samantha said...

Thank you for your honest review. I think it is important to consider how children with different abilities may benefit or not benefit from various curriculum. I reviewed My Access as well and enjoyed reading your review.

Samantha from To Be Busy At Home

Lori Lynn said...

When you said it would be good for those in need of "polishing" a lightbulb went off for me. I reviewed My Access LY and it wasn't a good fit for us. But I was using it as a writing curriculum to teach good writing skills. If I had reviewed it as a "polishing" curriculum it would have been better. Great review.