My Access is an online writing program from Vantage Learning. It is available in several editions: Home, College, and Professional. As a member of The Old Schoolhouse Crew, I was given the opportunity to review the Home edition and that will be the topic of this review. The Home edition costs $99.95 for a one-year site subscription. It is also available as a bundle with the My Access SAT Prep Pack for $134.90. (The SAT Prep Pack sells separately for $49.95.)
My Access Home Edition can be integrated with any curriculum and is a suitable writing program for homeschooling, tutoring, or general supplementation. It is available as a one-year online subscription. Subscriptions include one parent account and a choice of three or six student accounts.
My Access Home Edition has many features:
- It is completely web-based and can be accessed from any location that has an Internet connection.
- It has IntelliMetric, an artifical intelligence scoring engine that offers “immediate essay scoring and individualized feedback.”
- It has a word processor with many functions, such as a spell-checker and grammar checker.
- It has individual progress reports.
- It has self-paced, interactive lessons to guide students through the writing process.
- It has pre-loaded writing topics for three age groups: 8-10, 11-14, and 15-18.
- It can be integrated with any curriculum via the input of custom writing assignments.
- And much more!
Overall, my personal experience with My Access Home Edition has been positive. I set up a parent account and two student accounts, one for my 16-year old daughter and one for my 11-year old son. My youngest is still too young to use My Access, as the recommended age level is 8+. Setting up the accounts and learning the ins and outs of the site was somewhat tedious. However, once I had everything up and running, it was easy to use.
My daughter, 16, has been using My Access to write a book report/review of a classic fiction novel. My son, 11, has been using it to write a story based on the popular computer game, Rollercoaster Tycoon. Both of their assignments were added using the custom topic form, which is easy to use. The individualized site diagnostics show them if they are writing below, at, or above proficiency for their assigned age level. The software “grades” what they have written and offers them suggestions on how they can improve their writing.
One thing that I really like about My Access is that the parent user can set up cash reward levels to encourage and reward the child for his work. My son gets excited to see his points grow, as he knows that he will earn a reward for reaching a new level. I quickly realized that he could earn points faster than I expected, even though I tried to make a good educated guess as to how quickly he could accumulate rewards. So, I did have to adjust the reward levels and amounts. I simply can’t afford to dole out cash awards every other day!
Another nice thing about My Access is that it is not a rigid program. The site settings can be changed at any time to reflect an age level that is suitable for your child’s writing ability. If your child is performing below age level, you can place him in a lower age level to give him more practice. Then, you can move him up as he becomes proficient at that level. Likewise, you can assign your child to a higher age level, if he is performing above proficiency at his current age level.
Finally, I like the feedback that My Access offers. Reports are sent to the parent using an email address set by the parent. These reports give me some basic information about how my children are progressing with My Access without me having to log in and look for that information. On the other hand, if I want to know more information than the email provides, they make it easy for me to login and find that information. For instance, here is an example of an email report for my son:
“Your child/student, [name removed for privacy], has reached his or her writing goal of 5250 points. We encourage you to set a new goal and award incentive for your child/student to continue to work towards. For more ideas on how you can help your child/student develop his or her fullest writing potential or to view your child’s/student’s complete Progress Report, log onto www.myaccesshome.com.“
While My Access it is not our main tool for nitty gritty writing instruction, it is a useful tool. I like it for assigning custom topics to go along with anything we are studying. For instance, I mentioned that my daughter is using it to write a book report for English. However, I could easily set up custom assginments for science, history, art, etc. These assignments can be narrative, descriptive, persuasive, etc. The site will automatically assess the user’s writing skill based on age level and the style of writing assigned.
In addition to My Access, Vantage learning offers a variety of writing resources. For instance, Correct English Academic Plus will “instantly proof and evaluate your writing” and help “you significantly improve your writing’s quality and effectiveness in your field of study or research.” Additional resources, such as GMAT Write 1 and GMAT Write 2 help the user prepare for the Analytical Writing Assessment Section of the GMAT.
For more information about My Access Home Edition, or any of Vantage Learning’s other resources, please visit http://www.vantageonlinestore.com. For more reviews of My Access, please visit the official TOS Homeschool Crew blog.