Apple may have re-invented the wheel this time, insofar you can consider the wheel as an algebra textbook.
Over the past year, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, publisher of textbooks that you and me and everyone else we know have used since time immemorial, have been conducting a pilot study to test the effectiveness of an iPad-based algebra textbook (i.e., an app) to see how it might affect the quality of education for students. They recently concluded the study and the results show that their iPad algebra textbook app worked wonders for students’ math scores.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt provided a video of the launch of the HMH Fuse program at the school where the study was conducted:
The app, HMH Fuse, isn’t just a regular textbook inside of an iPad. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt had the app specifically designed to “full utilize the functionality of the iPad and provide students with a comprehensive, multimedia education experience.” To see if the app would float, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt took their product to a middle school in California and where students were randomly assigned one of two conditions: the HMH Fuse: Algebra 1 app (with a slick new iPad, I imagine) or a textbook version of the same program.
By the way, all you technophobes out there, get this straight: it’s not even like the students using different materials, okay? It’s the same content, just one’s gone all 2.0 with an iPad and is a lot more interactive whereas the control condition, the textbook, has the same information except it’s in book form.
So anyways. How’d it work out?
The discrepancy between the two groups’ test results are pretty staggering because the students who used HMH Fuse Algebra 1 scored 20%% higher on the state math exams. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt explains, “Comparing student performance, over 78% of students using HMH Fuse scored Proficient or Advanced on the state math test, compared to only 59% of their fellow students” who used the textbook version of the program.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt explained the difference in math scores, saying students who used HMH Fuse Algebra 1 “took the initiative to do their work, read the chapter repeatedly, watch lesson videos when they did not understand, and take notes and study, while also being free to leverage the technology for personal use – namely, games and entertainment – in their free time.”
Somewhere, Apple is very pleased with themselves right now.