Schools try algebra on iPad

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt is piloting the first full-curriculum algebra app for iPad, notes edReformer.  More than 400 eighth-graders in San Francisco, Long Beach, Fresno and Riverside will learn on iPads loaded with the algebra app. They will not use a textbook.

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  1. With a nice tidy payday for Apple and Harcourt no doubt.

  2. Notice the Ipads are going to district schools.

    Districts have the money to squander on ed-crap of every variety so naturally they’re the target market for cyber-edu-crap. If the kids get no educational value out of these gadgets well, so what? The district superintendent and the board get to brag about the cutting edge their schools occupy and isn’t the purpose of the public education system to fund bragging rights for over-paid professionals and irresponsible elected officials?

  3. How much does each one of these cost compared to a textbook? I’m thinking they aren’t so durable as a textbook either. It’s neat and all, but I can’t see how you could possibly justify the money, esp. in CA right now. I’m sure Apple and Harcourt are doing a happy dance.

  4. Two weeks ago I was riding bikes with my kids to school (first and third grades) and my son (third) fell off of the back of his bike due, in part, to the weight of his backpack. A trip to the ER, and two staples in his head later, had me thinking that there has to be a better way. I applaude Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for its innovation regarding digital solutions for our children. And, yes, he should have been wearing a helmet!

  5. Catherine T. says:

    I think it’s great! It’s a worktext with a video tutor and assessments throughout. I want this for my kids! Based on my experience–I taught myself algebra as an eighth-grader by going through a worktext while watching soap operas and ended up as a math major in college–a guided-yet-independent study like this app can be extremely effective.

  6. Kevin,

    Had your son fallen off the bike with an iPad in his backpack, someone would have had to pay $1000 to replace it.

    Textbooks are unduly bulky for complicated political and capitalist reasons (see Diane Ravitch’s The Language Police). The fact is that most could do a lot more with fewer pages –as our grandparents’ textbooks did.

    Education technology has had no net benefit on American schools (but it has had an enormous benefit for Silicon Valley). In fact, I think tech is part of the PROBLEM with American schools, for it obfuscates the real purpose of schools: to systematically impart inherited critical knowledge and wisdom (not ephemeral gadget-manipulating skills or mythical all-purpose thinking skills –thinking ability is part organic and part knowledge). Sadly, the medium has become the message, and our kids are being robbed of a solid liberal-arts education as a result.

  7. By the way, the reasons that many kids in my middle school flunk algebra are:

    a. they’ve been passed along without having mastered the fundamentals.

    b. they don’t pay much attention to their teachers.

    c. they don’t study.

    d. the current math-teaching methodology is closer to Everyday math than Singapore math.

    The solutions to these problems are not technology, as Apple would have us believe (and most of us would too willingly believe; we love tech “solutions”). The solutions are to get a new curriculum and stop social promotion. The latter would spur kids to put in more effort and prevent them from arriving in eighth grade algebra four grade levels behind.

  8. Hmm, suppose a teacher carried 5 periods of math a day, 35 students each, all replaced by $1000 iPads… That’s $175,000/year. If you can re-use the same iPads 2 or more years in a row, it seems to me you’d be saving money, yes? Perhaps use an administrator to proctor exams? It will still only teach the prepared and motivated, but those students will love it and probably get through it all faster.

  9. something is terribly wrong in this picture. Jean Baudrillard is right..the medium has become the message..


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