New Jersey district plans iPad-only algebra course

“We’re downloading this application, which is the equivalent of the 950-page book that we would’ve given students, and what we’re trying to do is offer this Algebra 1 course in a digital media teaching environment and compare it to the traditional method where we just use a textbook,” said O’Malley.

Edison Township School District plans to evaluate the program’s success through a variety of baseline tests and formative assessments, as well as analyzing the results of New Jersey’s state standardized tests and scores on the High School Proficiency Assessment (HSPA).

“We’re going to look at all the data to see if there was any dramatic increase in student achievement by offering this curriculum in a digital format,” O’Malley said.

If there seems to be a positive correlation between the use of HMH Fuse and test scores—which O’Malley is fairly certain there will be—Edison Township plans on expanding the program.

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“We’d want to expand it throughout both of our high schools, if not our middle schools as well,” said O’Malley. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt is also exploring adding to its own course offerings.

O’Malley is enthusiastic about the possibility of bringing iPads and HMH Fuse into the classroom. “This kind of cutting-edge technology has the ability to really personalize teaching,” he said.

HMH earlier this year launched a year-long pilot project with 400 eighth grade students in the San Francisco, Long Beach, Riverside, and Fresno school districts in California. One group of students used the HMH Fuse app, while the other group was taught traditionally. Each teacher in the pilot project randomly selected one class section to use the app and another to be taught via textbook. The test results from that pilot should be available in fall 2011, but early results are encouraging.

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