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Students' math scores jumped 20% with iPad textbooks, publisher says

post #1 of 73
Thread Starter 
A yearlong pilot program with digital textbooks on Apple's iPad found that students' algebra scores increased by 20 percent when compared to a curriculum with traditional books.

On the heels of Apple's e-textbook announcement in New York City this week, publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt announced the results of its "HMC Fuse: Algebra I" pilot program at Ameila Earhart Middle School in California's Riverside Unified School District. The Algebra I digital textbook is touted as the world's first full-curriculum algebra application developed exclusively for Apple's iPad.

In its test run, the "HMH Fuse" application helped more than 78 percent of students score "Proficient" or "Advanced" on the spring 2011 California Standards Test. That was significantly higher than the 59 percent of peers who used traditional textbooks.

"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 of Global Content and Product Development at HMH. "With HMH Fuse, teachers can assess student progress in real time and tailor instruction as needed.”

The first pilot program took place during the second trimester of the 2010-2011 school year, when students using "HMH Fuse" were said to have scored an average of 10 points higher than their peers. But that number jumped even higher for the California Standards Test in spring 2011, when "HMH Fuse" students scored about 20 percent higher than students who used traditional textbooks.




Earhart math teachers Dan Sbur and Jackie Davis were among the first to use the new digital tool on Apple's iPad. Both said they were encouraged by the initial run and the positive effect it had on students' scores.

"Students' interaction with the device was more personal," Earhart Principal Coleman Kells said. "You could tell the students were more engaged. Using the iPad was more normal, more understandable for them."

A white paper on the HMH Fuse Pilot Program is available for download from the publisher. Other schools and students can download the "HMH Fuse Shell" applications available for free on the iPad App Store, with curriculums available as in-app purchases within the applications.
post #2 of 73
So what this study indicates to me is, first, the iPad is a useful teaching tool and second, we need better teachers. Of course everyone knew the latter, everyone except the teacher's unions anyway.

-kpluck

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post #3 of 73
Intriguing findings. Hopefully someone will evaluate this using a proper impact assessment design (multi-level random assignment). There are too many confounds to get overly excited about these results.
post #4 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by kpluck View Post

...and second, we need better teachers.

It might not be better teachers, it might just be more teachers. Doubling the capacity of a class room makes it harder to control the focus which allows for less time to teach, and then for the children that need additional instruction (for various reasons) you either have to limit their time or see a small percentage of them which may happen as a student might get discouraged if they have to wait an extra long time for additional instruction. Interactive textbooks aren't designed to replace, just assist.

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post #5 of 73
While I would love to think that using the iPad and digital textbooks were going to solve our problems, I am still very skeptical. The 20% increase seen in this study may well be real, but it doesnt mean that it will carry over into every day. Pilot programs nearly always show an improvement because they use teachers who are committed to the new approach, and their enthusiasm helps motivate the students. When the same approach is then mandated for all teachers, most of whom have no interest in using a new method, the results are usually dismal. This has been true for math since at least the New Math of the 60s, as well as for various reading methods.

I do think the use of electronic texts will have some advantages, but I doubt if they will result in significant improvement in student performance.
post #6 of 73
"Students' math scores jumped 20% with iPad textbooks" = BS!
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post #7 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

It might not be better teachers, it might just be more teachers. Doubling the capacity of a class room makes it harder to control the focus which allows for less time to teach, and then for the children that need additional instruction (for various reasons) you either have to limit their time or see a small percentage of them which may happen as a student might get discouraged if they have to wait an extra long time for additional instruction. Interactive textbooks aren't designed to replace, just assist.

You need more and you need quality. There's no point in hiring more teachers if there lousy. Yes, class sizes need to be kept relatively small but quality is definitely important.
post #8 of 73
The only reason the scores jumped is because the tool isn't a boring piece of paper and a boring math textbook allowing them to solve the problems and then dink around on the iPad to occupy them instead of screwing off in class.

It has nothing to do with bad teachers, but a history of lazy, detached kids in the middle of a technology revolution none of us had in our formative years.
post #9 of 73
Both my daughters were straight A students in middle school and were in top 5%. How much better might they have been if they had iPads?
post #10 of 73
I quote Bloom County:

GENE SIMMONS NEVER HAD A PERSONAL COMPUTER WHEN HE WAS A KID.

How do we know? We know because our own well-documented research has shown conclusively that a child who lacks his own personal computer during those earliest school years will very probably grow up to be a bass player in a heavy metal rock band who wears women's fishnet pantyhose and sticks his tongue down to his kneecaps. Just like Gene Simmons.

Your child's future doesn't have to look like this.

The Banana Junior 6000 Self-portable Personal Computer System, complete with its optional software - Bananawrite, Bananadraw, Bananafile, and Bananamanager - is just what your four-year-old needs to compete in today's cut-throat world of high tech and high expectations.

The Banana Junior 6000...Buy one before it's too late. Gene's mother wishes she had.
post #11 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacTac View Post

Both my daughters were straight A students in middle school and were in top 5%. How much better might they have been if they had iPads?

Straight A+ and top 4%
post #12 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by tru_canuk View Post

You need more and you need quality. There's no point in hiring more teachers if there lousy. Yes, class sizes need to be kept relatively small but quality is definitely important.

You get what you pay for. Maybe we should pay them $25,000,000/yr. Seems to work for CEO's.
post #13 of 73
47.3% of all statistics are made up on the spot.

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post #14 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacTac View Post

Both my daughters were straight A students in middle school and were in top 5%. How much better might they have been if they had iPads?

My son was never very good in math. If there would have been an iPad or other device available that showed this kind of promise, I would have given him one in a heartbeat.
post #15 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by tru_canuk View Post

You need more and you need quality. There's no point in hiring more teachers if there lousy. Yes, class sizes need to be kept relatively small but quality is definitely important.

Quality is hugely important. The difference between a good teacher and a bad teacher makes a world of difference. But it is an oversimplification to blame teachers. If our teachers had half the class sizes, with more backup for 'difficult' (in the broadest sense) kids, better (more) training and better tools, I am pretty certain we would magically see a higher percentage of teachers being classed as good teachers. 'Teachers' is also a very general term, there are many auxiliary staff at schools that all contribute. A good principal makes perhaps the biggest difference, also.
post #16 of 73
Have homework, checked daily, pop quizzes, and routine weekly or (every 2 week) tests....and have a system to provide (or make available) tutoring..good tutoring for those who need it.

I did well in math in school in Algebra and Geometry but when I hit Calculus it was very foreign to me and I needed help. I am guessing an iPad course on Calculus that provided explanations and step-by-step for each problem would have helped me immensely (with Calculus).
post #17 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by Magic_Al View Post

I quote Bloom County:

GENE SIMMONS NEVER HAD A PERSONAL COMPUTER WHEN HE WAS A KID.

How do we know? We know because our own well-documented research has shown conclusively that a child who lacks his own personal computer during those earliest school years will very probably grow up to be a bass player in a heavy metal rock band who wears women's fishnet pantyhose and sticks his tongue down to his kneecaps. Just like Gene Simmons.

Your child's future doesn't have to look like this.

The Banana Junior 6000 Self-portable Personal Computer System, complete with its optional software - Bananawrite, Bananadraw, Bananafile, and Bananamanager - is just what your four-year-old needs to compete in today's cut-throat world of high tech and high expectations.

The Banana Junior 6000...Buy one before it's too late. Gene's mother wishes she had.

This deserves a link to the comic: http://www.sebsgarage.com/sites/sebs...eneSimmons.jpg

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"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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post #18 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by MACT View Post

While I would love to think that using the iPad and digital textbooks were going to solve our problems, I am still very skeptical. The 20% increase seen in this study may well be real, but it doesnt mean that it will carry over into every day. Pilot programs nearly always show an improvement because they use teachers who are committed to the new approach, and their enthusiasm helps motivate the students. When the same approach is then mandated for all teachers, most of whom have no interest in using a new method, the results are usually dismal. This has been true for math since at least the New Math of the 60s, as well as for various reading methods.

I do think the use of electronic texts will have some advantages, but I doubt if they will result in significant improvement in student performance.

I don't think anyone has ever claimed that iPads (or anything else) would solve our educational problems. We got into a mess for a lot of reasons and a lot of factors would help. Among them:

- Parents getting involved
- Better tools for the students
- Insisting on competency (our state is talking about trying to waive the graduation requirements because several thousand students are likely to fail. How about fixing the problem rather than dropping the tests?)
- More teachers
- Getting rid of disruptive students
- Lots of other things.

The iPad alone won't solve the problem, but no one said it would. It may be one factor that will help and if we are committed to doing enough of the right things, the problem will get solved.
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post #19 of 73
The problem with education in modern society for decades now has been pretty simple: our society makes a colossal effort to connect with people and children when we try to entertain and advertise. So much so that efforts to educate simply can not compete for our attention. Apple appears to be trying to fight back for education. Maybe it will have some success but I don't know if there's enough motivation behind education to keep up with the entertainment and marketing industries.
post #20 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacTac View Post

Both my daughters were straight A students in middle school and were in top 5%. How much better might they have been if they had iPads?

First of all you are very lucky. If your child is not academically minded, have a hard time sitting still for long hours, struggle with focusing on text and math problem solving, or has an unsympathetic teacher, they may fare badly at school in spite of being intelligent. For those kids an iPad may make a huge difference.

Had they had iPads maybe your girls would have had more time for other pursuits which I am sure they would like I know mine would. Perhaps they would have learned more than what was required for the marks they got. Perhaps they would have found certain subject much more interesting which in turn might have pointed them in new directions. Perhaps they would have loved you just a little bit more because you were the coolest dad ever that bought them an iPad?
post #21 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

I don't think anyone has ever claimed that iPads (or anything else) would solve our educational problems. We got into a mess for a lot of reasons and a lot of factors would help. Among them:

- Parents getting involved
- Better tools for the students
- Insisting on competency (our state is talking about trying to waive the graduation requirements because several thousand students are likely to fail. How about fixing the problem rather than dropping the tests?)
- More teachers
- Getting rid of disruptive students
- Lots of other things.

The iPad alone won't solve the problem, but no one said it would. It may be one factor that will help and if we are committed to doing enough of the right things, the problem will get solved.

Getting rid of disruptive students? Are you serious? What are you thinking? Extermination, imprisonment, deportation? Disruptive students tend to be disruptive for many reasons. Many of those would be addressed in your fixes above, others would need more resources. Remember that Steve Jobs was a pretty disruptive student. What should we have done with him?
post #22 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacTac View Post

Both my daughters were straight A students in middle school and were in top 5%. How much better might they have been if they had iPads?

I wonder if those are really your daughters... if on average the students scores jump 20%, then your daughters won't be doing any better or worse (top "blank" percentage wise). Their reported scores might be higher, but if all students' increase then every child above and below your daughters would be doing better.

And secondly, this is total bullshit. The inclusion of an electronic device that magically improves learning ability is just another fairy tale used by publishers to make you buy into the idea that education will improve if you buy your children $500 devices.
Yeah, have fun with that.

Lastly, fuck you Apple Insider. This is the type of reporting that feeds these companies.
post #23 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by franktinsley View Post

The problem with education in modern society for decades now has been pretty simple: our society makes a colossal effort to connect with people and children when we try to entertain and advertise. So much so that efforts to educate simply can not compete for our attention. Apple appears to be trying to fight back for education. Maybe it will have some success but I don't know if there's enough motivation behind education to keep up with the entertainment and marketing industries.

Good point about the competition from entertainment. Crowd sourcing the course materials, now about to begin, might help.
post #24 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by bongo View Post

<Insults>

Slow your roll, Bongo.

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"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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post #25 of 73
Hmm, 20% jump in a well-to-do suburban system? OK, Apple, let's duplicate those results a little closer to home, say in Oakland or East Palo Alto.
post #26 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

It might not be better teachers, it might just be more teachers. Doubling the capacity of a class room makes it harder to control the focus which allows for less time to teach, and then for the children that need additional instruction (for various reasons) you either have to limit their time or see a small percentage of them which may happen as a student might get discouraged if they have to wait an extra long time for additional instruction. Interactive textbooks aren't designed to replace, just assist.

So true! Of course there are bad teachers. Decreasing the class size will help determine who the really good teachers are. When teachers can finally give adequate personalized attention to their students, then we see the good teachers shine.

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post #27 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by audio_inside View Post

Hmm, 20% jump in a well-to-do suburban system? OK, Apple, let's duplicate those results a little closer to home, say in Oakland or East Palo Alto.

Have you ever been to Riverside CA? It is not exactly a well to do suburb.

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post #28 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post

The only reason the scores jumped is because the tool isn't a boring piece of paper and a boring math textbook allowing them to solve the problems and then dink around on the iPad to occupy them instead of screwing off in class.

It has nothing to do with bad teachers, but a history of lazy, detached kids in the middle of a technology revolution none of us had in our formative years.

"The only reason the scores jumped is because the tool isn't a boring piece of paper and a boring math textbook allowing them to solve the problems and then dink around on the iPad to occupy them instead of screwing off in class."

And that's a bad thing?

My years in school began before Television -- it was a real treat to see a movie once a month.

A school assembly with a guest speaker, band performance, or opera singer... was very special!


Today, TV (and about everything else) is interactive -- education/learning tools have to become so -- just to keep pace and compete for the student's interest.

An iPad application like StarWalk -- has just gotta' blow the mind of anyone who uses it.

Tools like that have the ability to inspire an individual and change his life!

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post #29 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by audio_inside View Post

Hmm, 20% jump in a well-to-do suburban system? OK, Apple, let's duplicate those results a little closer to home, say in Oakland or East Palo Alto.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

Have you ever been to Riverside CA? It is not exactly a well to do suburb.

I worked out of the Riverside IBM Office (sub-office in Las Vegas, CA) in the years 1964-1968.

Riverside was a pretty nice place for the upward mobile college-grad new-hire... at that time.

Today, not so much!

The last time I went through Riverside was in the 90s, on a detour out of San Bernardino -- there was a gunman on I10 shooting at passing vehicles...
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post #30 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by Magic_Al View Post

I quote Bloom County:

GENE SIMMONS NEVER HAD A PERSONAL COMPUTER WHEN HE WAS A KID.

How do we know? We know because our own well-documented research has shown conclusively that a child who lacks his own personal computer during those earliest school years will very probably grow up to be a bass player in a heavy metal rock band who wears women's fishnet pantyhose and sticks his tongue down to his kneecaps. Just like Gene Simmons.

Your child's future doesn't have to look like this.

The Banana Junior 6000 Self-portable Personal Computer System, complete with its optional software - Bananawrite, Bananadraw, Bananafile, and Bananamanager - is just what your four-year-old needs to compete in today's cut-throat world of high tech and high expectations.

The Banana Junior 6000...Buy one before it's too late. Gene's mother wishes she had.



Banana Jr. Series Computer
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post #31 of 73
Of course any kids or schools will show improvements whenever they incorporate iPads and these new textbooks in their classes.
It is new, it is technology, it is exciting. It would be easy to engage yourself and get the work done. Getting better grades.
BUT. What will happen in a couple of years or so. By then, it will be very hard to keep kids heads in their school work. Some kids will start using this technology for different purposes. Looking for ways instead in cheating and trying to get other things done.
It will take as much work now to keep most young & old minds in the learning mode.
post #32 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by paxman View Post

Getting rid of disruptive students? Are you serious? What are you thinking? Extermination, imprisonment, deportation? Disruptive students tend to be disruptive for many reasons. Many of those would be addressed in your fixes above, others would need more resources. Remember that Steve Jobs was a pretty disruptive student. What should we have done with him?

Yes, disruptive students ruin things for the other students. And don't be stupid - no one ever suggested extermination or deportation.

Disruptive students should face the consequences. Detention until 7 pm every night if necessary. Sitting in the corner with a Dunce cap if necessary. Parents being forced to pay for them to be sent to a military academy. There are lots of options. But allowing a few kids to interfere with the rest of the class's right to an education is not a good one.
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post #33 of 73
Although I believe the iPads helped, sometimes just observing the subjects, changes the behavior of the subjects. Was there a control group where nothing was changed? Was there a control group with a "placebo" pilot program? Without these, it's hard to say if the actual content of the program was responsible for causing any of the change.

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post #34 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by juandl View Post

Of course any kids or schools will show improvements whenever they incorporate iPads and these new textbooks in their classes.
It is new, it is technology, it is exciting. It would be easy to engage yourself and get the work done. Getting better grades.
BUT. What will happen in a couple of years or so. By then, it will be very hard to keep kids heads in their school work. Some kids will start using this technology for different purposes. Looking for ways instead in cheating and trying to get other things done.
It will take as much work now to keep most young & old minds in the learning mode.

I suspect that there were similar concerns when overhead projectors, film projectors and TV/VCRs were introduced into the classroom.

I know that there were similar concerns when computers were introduced into the classroom. (We setup a HS Computer Lab in 1980).

The difference with computers and now, iPads -- is that the are interactive... and the iPad is personal 1::1.

But, the devices are merely the delivery mechanisms -- content, attention-grabbing, absorbing, interactive, inspiring content is the medium.

Screw the iPad... it's only the first baby step!

Schools, homes and enterprises in the near future will have full-size, multi-touch video walls instead of whiteboards, flip-chart easels, projectors...

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post #35 of 73
Baby Steps exactly. One big difference is that with the iPad, iTouch & iPhones, having them with them 24/7. These young minds will be miles ahead of any generations.
Its not really Apple's fault, but they will be the ones that will move the needle more than any other. For Good and maybe for some unknown Bad. We are in for a wild ride
post #36 of 73
Regardless of the limitations of this "experiment", it is obvious that the tablet will be far, far more than simply a lighter, electronic version of the historical textbook. If that's all it had to offer, it would still be worthwhile. But it will go far beyond that. Interactivity and video will be two "killer apps" in this field. Instead of having a mere static illustration, we'll see videos, as well as various diagrams which the student will be able to manipulate and interact with. And certainly there will be the ability to quickly access the internet for a quick side-reference.

Certainly there will be cost issues in the near-term to deal with (i.e., schools having to purchase all that hardware). But long-term, this is absolutely the future. I'm very excited for the students. This will unleash a wave of creativity in education and should make education much more interesting and productive.

Hopefully Apple becomes the Gorilla in the hardware space. It's certainly off to a great start.
post #37 of 73
Actually, when I posted my previous reply, I was just focused on the manner in which the tablet will revolutionize education.

But then I realized what an amazing opportunity this is for Apple. If the iPad does in fact become the Gorilla in the educational tablet arena, and when every student from kindergarten through graduate school has his own tablet (which is a certainty)...what an enormous market. Far larger than the educational PC market; we never even came close to a computer for every student.
post #38 of 73
This story is a perfect illistration of whats wrong with our tech media today - this is an anticdotal white paper put out by the vendor, and guess what, the new thing they want to sell looks good! shock!

call me in a couple years when a few respected universities' schools of education have time to do a full random sample study with lots of controls and continued progress metrics...then I will buy it...a vendor white paper is just a sales flyer for people who really really like to read and dig into detail...

I am not saying it cant improve outcomes, I am just saying that one vendor white paper on a product that until yesterday wasn't available outside their lab is bogus.
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post #39 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dick Applebaum View Post

I worked out of the Riverside IBM Office (sub-office in Las Vegas, CA) in the years 1964-1968.

Las Vegas, California - not that hard to imagine

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post #40 of 73
Additionally I cant help but wonder what this will do to widen the economic divide...I would imagine that the richer school districts in upper crust yuppy suburbs will get this and inner city urban schools will be left with the scraps...and imagine if schools in bad neighborhoods get this, what will it do to crime? Not too many weeks ago there were stories in the press of people beating each other up and in one case I recall there was a death involved all over some $200 Nike tennis shoes...can you imagine the potential violence if thugs in the bad part of town knew that every kid on the school bus had an ipad that could be pawned for what? like $300 or more depending on options and stuff?

I really don't want to sound inappropriate but really it seems like no one is really looking at the entire scope of social evolution and possible division of classes here - we don't want to have a 2 class society, those with access to information and those without but this could lead to that if we as a whole society are not careful to include the least amongst us in this transformation...
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