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New ed-tech products target classroom instruction

Classroom instruction was the focus of many new products introduced at recent ed-tech conferences.

Software designed for touch-screen tablets, and new programs for teaching reading and math, were among the many products unveiled at recent ed-tech conferences. Some providers of curriculum software also highlighted new research to support the efficacy of their products.

New tablet-based products

Capitalizing on the growing use of iPads and other tablet computers in education, the California-based nonprofit MIND Research Institute released ST Math Touch, a version of its ST Math visual learning software for students in grades K-5 that is optimized for use with touch-based tablets.

ST Math software has been shown to roughly double annual growth in math scores, particularly in schools with historically low achievement levels, MIND says. ST Math Touch works with most tablet operating systems, including iOS, Android, and Microsoft devices. It provides a multisensory experience for students with natural, gesture-based computing.

“The visual approach MIND has been pioneering is a perfect match for touch screens and provides a game-changing use of manipulatives, guided and made rigorous through software, through all of elementary school math,” said Andrew R. Coulson, president of MIND’s education division. “In this way, students literally see how the math works and learn new concepts by direct experience, before dealing with math’s abstract representations.”

Another new educational software program for tablet computers is Inspiration Software’s Inspiration Maps, which brings its visual mapping tools to Apple’s iPad. With Inspiration Maps, students in grades 6-12 can use the same mind-mapping and outlining tools they might already know from Inspiration to create visual diagrams and outlines that help them clarify their thoughts, organize and analyze information, integrate new knowledge, and learn to think critically using iPads, the company said.

McGraw-Hill Education now offers five high school math and science textbooks designed specifically for the iPad, and the company expects to double its offerings for the iPad during the year. The titles will be sold through Apple’s iBookstore. The initial group of McGraw-Hill Education titles made available as digital textbooks for Apple’s iBooks platform includes Common Core State Standard editions of Algebra 1 and Geometry, as well as Biology, Chemistry Matter and Change, and Physics Principles and Problems.

Research on ed-tech efficacy

MIDA Learning Technologies disseminated the results of an 18-month, mixed-methods study of the efficacy of its Espresso Elementary product in second-grade classrooms at 10 Pennsylvania schools. The study suggests that Espresso Elementary, which uses a multisensory approach to teaching, has helped students’ performance in math: The students in the experimental group “significantly outperformed” those in the control group on a post-test, the company says. Teachers, meanwhile, reported higher levels of engagement among students in the classrooms using Espresso.

Scientific Learning also released the results of a study suggesting its software has helped improve achievement. From 2006 to 2011, the St. Mary Parish Public School System in Centerville, La., posted double-digit gains in fourth grade proficiency levels on the Louisiana Educational Assessment Program (LEAP) tests, the company said.

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