Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Review: My Access

Vantage Learning has an online writing program called My Access that I was given to use for the TOS Review Crew.  What I received was a 3-student subscription to the Home Version of the program.

I have heard about My Access fairly often over the years I have been homeschooling, and I was intrigued.  So trying it out for myself has been great.  They say it is for ages 8 and up though I found it too much for my 8 year old.

The program is completely web-based, so there is no software to load, and you can work on it anywhere that you have internet access.  There are 90 writing topics already included in the program, or you can create your own.  One thing to note, though, is that the assumption is that you are writing an essay-type of paper.  If you input assignments from another curriculum where the child is to write a paragraph describing an object, My Access is going to include criticisms that it isn't long enough -- because it is expecting a five paragraph essay.

While I'm being nitpicky, another issue has to do with being docked for spelling -- if you are writing about people with unusual names, those will bring down your score for that essay.  Or if your writing includes Latin phrases, names of Egyptian Pharaohs, or the word homeschooling.  If there is a way for me to go in and say "Yes, that word is spelled correctly," I did not find it.

In implementing this in our household, we've hit a couple of snags.  As we are winding up our official school year this week, one of my plans is to spend some time working with My Access specifically with my oldest son.  He is certainly capable of a higher level of writing than he has been doing, and I really think that with a bit of coaching from me, he can get a lot out of My Access.  The problem is that he is not actually working through the coaching aspect of the program, nor is he really putting a lot of thought into what he writes.  We need to back up and go over the basic format of an essay again.  Once he gets that back into his head, I think My Access is going to be a great tool

I'm also very seriously contemplating pulling Thomas out and using that "student" for me.  My writing certainly needs work.  From watching Connor work with this, I think My Access would be a great option for a student who does have a basic grasp of essay writing already, but needs to practice.  Unfortunately, that does not describe my children right at the moment.

My Access Home Edition is available as a one year subscription for up to three students for $99.95, or up to six students for $129.95.  If you do have three kids who can use this, that's something under $3 per kid per month.  Although I don't think this would work as a stand-alone writing curriculum, I do think -- as long as you take the time up front to walk your kids through the first essay -- that this would be a great way to not only supplement whatever you are already doing, but also a nice tool to get "someone" else telling your child his sentences are really fragments, or whatever issue your child doesn't seem to hear from you.  My Access will continue to be used in my home.

I would highly recommend watching the demo videos if you have any interest in the program.  Maybe not the one on setting up the accounts, but the others.

And you can check out what my fellow crewmates have to say about My Access at:

Any questions? I'd love to know what you would want to know in deciding whether or not this is something you want to purchase.

Disclaimer:  As part of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I did receive a one year membership for my family for free from Vantage Learning.  The fact that I received a complimentary product does not guarantee a favorable review.  It does guarantee a review. A fair review. But I am not going to praise something unless I think it deserves the praise.  If I don't like it, you'll hear that.  And hopefully with enough detail as to why so you can decide for yourself if what I hate about it makes it perfect for your family.  For more about my take on reviews, visit my blog post here.


homeschooldawn said...

This was a very helpful review. I have been considering this program for some time. I am a crew member who did not get this assignment so I couldn't wait to read the reviews! :)

Debra said...

Hey, Dawn --

Glad you found this helpful! It's so interesting to read the different takes on some of these products!

Thanks for visiting :)