California Schools Testing Algebra eTextbooks on the iPad

Creative Commons Photo by Patrick Allen

The Fresno Bee and Washington policy-wonk blog The Hill report on the move by California schools to test iPad based interactive ebooks as algebra textbooks, in partnership with educational publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt is proclaiming the move as “the first of its kind,” which it kinda is and isn’t — in particular, Massachusetts schools announced in August that they were launching a similar program, and Notre Dame has a similar pilot program this year, as have other universities.

Four hundred randomly-selected eighth-grade students in Long Beach, Riverside, Fresno and San Francisco will get their eighth-grade algebra texts on iPads instead of in print, “in an attempt to prove the advantages of interactive digital technologies over traditional teaching methods.”

Says The Hill:

Students randomly selected for the program will receive iPads loaded with digital versions of their textbooks for the coming school year. Their progress will be tracked and compared against that of their classmates using traditional textbooks to determine the potential benefit of a switch to digital technology.

Students with iPads will have instant access to more than 400 videos from teaching experts walking them through the concepts and assignments, rather than having to rely on the teacher’s explanation in class. There is also a homework coach and animated instructions on how to complete assignments.

[Harcourt Vice President of K-12 Sales John Sipe] said the videos allow teachers to focus on individual instruction rather than walking the entire class through the same examples again and again. The iPad also allows students to take audio or text notes and do assignments right on the device itself, giving the teacher the ability to track their progress in real time.


Macgasm’s Bernard Lagana makes the excellent — if shamelessly optimistic and even a tad nostalgic — point that:

I’m reminded of when Apple IIe’s and Apple IIc’s were first introduced in schools as an educational tool. They introduced a whole new way to learn. Back then computers were less interactive than today, but it gave us the tools we needed to learn at the time. Just like the iPad’s Algebra app will do.


Thanks to David Cassel for the link to the piece on The Hill.

Possibly related posts: