My Access! Home Edition Review

10/29/2009
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Do you ever wonder if your child has gaps in his writing? I do. My kids don't like to write (unless they are writing a story or notebooking) so I was excited to receive a subscription to MY Access!® Home Edition to review for the Crew. MY Access!® Home Edition, by Vantage Learning, is an online writing program designed to guide students through the writing process with engaging and interactive writing activities, self-guided instruction and motivating feedback. What's Included?
  • Each 12-month subscription to MY Access!® Home Edition includes one parent account and your choice of up to six student accounts.
  • MY Access!® is completely web-based and you can use it anywhere you have a computer and internet access.
  • 90 writing topics for three different age groups (8-10, 11-14, and 15-18) encourage students to begin writing immediately.
  • Self-paced and interactive lessons guide students through the writing process: planning, organizing, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing.
  • Graphic organizers and other printable resources help students plan successful essays.
  • Essay scoring and individualized feedback is available immediately through an artificial intelligence scoring engine.
  • Activities on the key traits of writing: focus, content development, organization, language use, and grammar.
  • A word processor with editing and writing tools including a thesaurus, grammar-checker, spell-checker, and word bank lists help students vary and develop their vocabulary.
  • and more!
Click here to see the demos available for this product. The Writing Dashboard provides information about each students's overall progress (below proficient, proficient or advanced proficient) and specific progress. As a parent or teacher, you can:
  • manage all of your accounts (including login information for each student)
  • opt to receive a weekly or monthly progress report about your students progress
  • assign a writing topic from a list of available topics or enter your own topic
  • set goals and awards for incentive points
  • view your order history and see how many days are left in your subscription
  • monitor progress, read written submissions and more
My thoughts: I used this program with 3 students and I love that this program is self-paced and interactive. Each child was able to work on their own and were able to navigate through the program with ease. They loved earning activity points by completing writing activities (such as reading an essay and answering questions about it). If they didn't understand a concept, then they could use the Resources tab to look up that concept. However, it would have been nice to have a concept linked directly to the resource, rather than having the child guess which category their concept fit under. Such as if your 9 year old forgets what a comma is and doesn't know that it can be found under "punctuation" in the topic list. But, it is definitely a program that your kids can navigate through with ease. Furthermore, they were able to earn points with the writing activities. This was motivating for them. I think the point system could be improved, though. My kids learned that you can memorize the answers (only 3 to remember), repeat the activity and then plug in the answers again to get more points. In other words, they can cheat for points. So, we had to do away with the whole point system (and have a talk about that). And without the point system, I did not have a way to gauge how well they were doing on the writing activities (unless I sat there with them while they did them). So, while it seemed a neat feature at first, it didn't work for us. For the actual writing part of the program, we loved the word processor with editing and writing tools. Everything they need to write with is at their fingertips. I did have a hard time getting them to focus on the actual writing instead of on the font, font size, spacing, and all of the other distractions. They were just not very productive during their computer time. For the purpose of this review, I created a writing topic and had them submit a writing that they did for our regular writing curriculum, instead of having them submit a newly written essay. Then, then revised it to see if they could improve it. I liked this a little better, because instead of trying to write, they tried to make their writing better. In the future (and I do plan to continue using the program), I will have them first complete the writing assignment on paper and then have them enter the rough draft. Once a writing was submitted, we received instant feedback. Almost too instant. I was not sure how well I liked the artificial intelligence grading. This may have been influenced by previous experience with an online writing assessment program that I used while working as a tutor in college. It seemed generic and not specific enough compared to a real person giving real suggestions. A revision list is given though, and if you work through the list, you can improve your writing and resubmit it. Each submission gets you more points. However the point system needs improvement in this area as well. (You can submit the writing after only making only a few changes and still get a good chunk of points.) Price: If I can help it, I try not to see the price of an item until I have written my review. So, I just now peeked at the price: $99.95 for up to 3 children and $129.95 for up to 6. Not knowing will sometimes help me to decide if it would be worth it and while the price tag seemed a bit high at first, this price is for a 12 month subscription and for 3 to 6 children. Considering that, it seemed like a reasonable price (especially if you have 6 children).
Vantage Learning also has a blog with tips and lesson plans called 'Because Writing Matters... At Home' as well as a community forum for support. And you can also see the complete line of products that Vantage Learning has to offer here.
See other crew member reviews of MY Access!® Home Edition, or click on the banner below to visit the Crew Blog.
I received a membership for free in exchange for my review. No further compensation was received and I offer my honest opinion.

3 comments:

Kathy said...

This post is a very helpful review, Michelle. We have had to slow waaaay down in the writing area because of other issues. The writing curriculum we have now is helping her really think about what a good sentence is and has even helped her in her verbal communication. That said, an online course would probably be of help to her later on. It is amazing how quickly the children can find "the tricks" behind the scoring isn't it. : ) Blessings!

Andi said...

Kids always looking for loop holds lol. I love your honesty as always.

HomeschoolingbyFAITH said...

This is a very helpful review (it's how I found your blog!). I was trying to make a final decision about what writing curriculum to try and I think I'm going to give this a try. I was also considering Writing Strands, as well. I may be able to incorporate both (I kind of don't want all of the writing to be done on the computer) - any suggestion?

You mentioned the price: I will be purchasing it from homeschoolbuyersco-op.com (which is free to join and the deals are amazing). The price through the co-op is:

$49.95 for up to 3 students
$64.96 for up to 6
Add-ons (i.e. Faith and Values, SAT Prep, etc.) are as low as $23.96

So if you thought the prices through Vantage were reasonable, I'm sure you'll love the co-op prices. I hope others see these price who may be thinking about MyAccess Writing! Again, thanks for sharing!

Blessings and Success by FAITH,

Genyne

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