Need to learn algebra? There’s an app for that, as a group of students at Washington Middle and Hudson K-8 schools in California found out Sept. 8, reports the Long Beach Press-Telegram. Collectively at both schools, about 150 eighth-graders in four classes were provided with iPads loaded with a digital interactive Algebra I textbook to use this school year. The iPads and software were distributed as part of a one-year pilot program run by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), the educational publishing firm that produced the digital interactive textbook. The study will compare the academic performance of a control group of students using the paper version of the new algebra textbook with that of students using the interactive digital version. HMH is providing at no cost the interactive digital textbooks and the latest paper versions for the study. The Long Beach Unified School District is among four California districts taking part in the pilot program; the other districts are Fresno, Riverside, and San Francisco Unified. Bonnie Reiss, the state secretary of education, said the ground-breaking pilot program fits in with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s push for digital textbooks. The application, which the firm calls HMH Fuse, is not simply an electronic version of the paper textbook; it’s designed to be an interactive experience on the iPad, a thin mobile device about 9.5 inches tall and 7.5 inches wide. Students using the algebra app can watch instructional videos, type or voice-record notes, and complete computer quizzes that provide immediate feedback on whether answers are correct.  The results of quizzes are sent automatically to the teacher’s iPad, so he or she can track the kids’ performance…

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Laura Ascione is the Managing Editor, Content Services at eSchool Media. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland's prestigious Philip Merrill College of Journalism. When she isn't wrangling her two children, Laura enjoys running, photography, home improvement, and rooting for the Terps. Find Laura on Twitter: @eSN_Laura http://twitter.com/eSN_Laura