iPad-based Algebra boosts scores

January 21, 2012

Education is such a contrived, political issue. A massive and amorphous bureaucracy conjoined at the hip by public sector unions, which together have become an immovable force. Throw in the nutters that want their religion and/or version of the universe’s origins taught publicly and you get the fuster cluck we currently enjoy.

There are glimmers of hope, however, and Apple’s initiative to remake textbooks is among brightest, which could obviate the corrupt and wasteful process of textbook selection and provision.

That said, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) is claiming stunning success in an Algebra textbook pilot program at the Amelia Earhart Middle School in California’s Riverside Unified School District. Previously, only 59 percent of students achieved proficiency or better, a mark that was radically improved to 79 after by using the iPad-based textbook and teaching method.

“The app was great! Students were motivated and more in charge of their own learning,” said Dan Sbur, one of the two math teachers involved in the study. “[HMH Fuse] is more of a ‘my generation thing’ as opposed to a textbook.”

The choice of Algebra for the pilot is obvious as it’s a subject where there’s universal agreement on the need for improvement and there are absolutely no religious overtones whatsoever — it either works or it doesn’t.

“By engineering a comprehensive platform that combines the best learning material with technology that embraces students’ strengths and addresses their weaknesses, we’ve gone far beyond the capabilities of an e-book to turn a one-way math lesson into an engaging, interactive, supportive learning experience,” said Bethlam Forsa, executive vice president, Global Content and Product Development. “With HMH Fuse, teachers can assess student progress in real time and tailor instruction as needed.”

We need so much more of this kind of success — measurable, observable success that opens every subject and established methodology to questioning and, one hopes, rending apart…

What’s your take?

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