Episode #: 118
Show: National 9
Airdates: Feb - Aug  (see Programming Schedule for specific airtimes)


New Hope for Children Struggling to Learn Basic Skills


Scientists developed a professional tool to help children who are not getting the education they need because of overwhelmed schools. Known as ALEKS, the computerized system analyzes a child's current understanding and creates a precise training plan to fill in the gaps in that child's learning. More powerful than a private tutor, ALEKS is also much cheaper, using the Internet to evaluate and educate a child. 



News Set Intro

Lynette Romero & Mark Kriski On camera

Bkgrd grfx: textbooksOn camera

On CameraFootage:

montage of elementary schools and students

On camera




On camera

LYNETTE: Education is the cornerstone of every advanced society. It is one of the most important aspects of our lives, the very foundation for our success and our future. We invest [B]illions of dollars annually in our schools and other educational institutions.

MARK:Even with this huge investment in education, many of our children are not performing well. Parents feel helpless when their children can't do their homework, or receive low grades on tests. Disturbingly large numbers of students fail to master basic concepts in math and other core subjects. Yet, understanding these basic concepts is required to succeed in today's world.

LYNNETTE:Our society, and our classrooms, have become increasingly complex and diverse, and educators have found it very difficult to give students the individual attention they need. As a result, many students don't reach their full potential, or are not prepared to pursue further education or to succeed in the job market.

MARK: Even in crucial subjects like math, our schools don't have the resources to identify which of the basic concepts an individual student has grasped, and where additional help may be needed. Public schools can't afford to provide one-on-one assistance. Some families have hired private tutors to work with their children -- an expensive option that's out of reach for many families.

LYNNETTE:Now there is a personal learning assistant for all families. A scientific breakthrough at the University of California, Irvine has made individualized help available to everyone. Here with more on this development is Pat Matthews.


02.On camera OpenLocation: Grade school campusCORRESPONDENT:Lynnette, a powerful new product available on the Internet could be a major advance in math education. 




Footage: computer screen images of ALEKS in use at ALEKS home office




CORRESPONDENT:The educational tool known as ALEKS was developed at the University of California Irvine with major grants from the National Science Foundation and other U.S. government agencies. ALEKS is a fully automated personal one-on-one math tutor. It is a unique, sophisticated learning assistant that identifies precisely what a student already knows and what the student still needs to learn. It then teaches the student all of the missed concepts that hindered the student's progress so far.

On cameraLocation:

Grade school campus

Interview subject: Parent and child in home

Question 1AQuestion 2AQuestion 3AQuestion 4AQuestion 5A

On cameraFootage: ALEKS official demonstrating ALEKS onlineQUESTION 1B(Reource: "ALEKS Competition")


CORRESPONDENT:ALEKS is designed to help parents from any economic background who are frustrated when their children do not understand math. In local school districts and colleges, itís distributed by publishing giant McGraw Hill Education. Itís also available directly on the Internet and anyone can subscribe to it. Easily available and easy to use, ALEKS does not require a fast broadband connection; it works equally well with common dial-up connections.

CORRESPONDENT: How easy was it for your child to grasp the math concepts taught in her school?

PARENT/CHILD: (No.)CORRESPONDENT:How did you want to help her?

PARENT/CHILD: (Tutor too expensive.)

CORRESPONDENT:What did ALEKS do for your child?

PARENT/CHILD: (identified needs, customized lessons)

CORRESPONDENT:Was this a computer game or a serious educational tool?

PARENT/CHILD: (Serious product)

CORRESPONDENT: How easy was it, and how did it help?


CORRESPONDENT:Although software designed to make learning fun is available, ALEKS is unique because of its sophisticated artificial intelligence and its suitability for all age groups, including adults. The program's artificial intelligence pinpoints a student's current understanding and determines what the student needs to learn. ALEKS constantly re-evaluates what the student needs to learn, and offers a precisely targeted selection of math problems the student is ready to work on. Individual students access their personal ALEKS at any time from almost any computer connected to the Internet. Wil Lampros is the president of ALEKS corporation.

CORRESPONDENT: Isn't ALEKS just another educational software or edutainment product that families buy for their computer?

COMPANY SPOKESPERSON: (Not CD, gameware, generic.)

CORRESPONDENT: What makes ALEKS a sophisticated product?

COMPANY SPOKESPERSON: (Developed by scientists, University/NSF project, AI, Knowledge Space Theory.)

CORRESPONDENT: Does ALEKS make generic choices, or does it go further when presenting its training for the user?

COMPANY SPOKESPERSON: (Very specific choices tailored to individual.)

CORRESPONDENT: How does it make such detailed choices?

COMPANY SPOKESPERSON: (Knowledge Space Theory, Artificial Intelligence)

CORRESPONDENT: How easy is it to use, and what languages does it use?COMPANY SPOKESPERSON: (simple interface, low bandwidth, English/Spanish)

05On cameraOn Camera Throw to News DeskCORRESPONDENT:Many parents are frustrated when they discover that their children are not learning basic math skills. ALEKS gives parents the chance to improve their children's education. By determining what the student knows and still needs to learn, ALEKS is able to precisely target teaching to individual students and to teach them what they need to learn. Powerful learning tools like ALEKS, driven by cutting-edge artificial intelligence technology, are expected to have a major impact on our educational systems in the years to come.For Business World News, I'm Pat Matthews.



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