LONG BEACH - With the swipe of a finger, 14-year-old Baldwin Liwanag can factor an algebra problem in seconds on his Apple iPad. 

Lighter and brighter that a traditional textbook, the iPad makes math more fun, the eighth-grader said."It lets us pay attention more because it's not as boring as a usual textbook," he said.

This year, the Long Beach Unified School District was one of four districts in the state to take part in a pilot program for a digital Algebra I application on the Apple iPad. The other districts were Fresno, Riverside and San Francisco Unified.

Eighth-graders in two LBUSD schools - Washington Middle and Hudson K-8 - received 70 iPads loaded with a digital interactive Algebra I textbook at the beginning of the school year.

And so far, the results look promising, says James Mills, an Algebra I teacher at Hudson.

Since the students received their iPad tablets, Mills said he's notice an improvement in the number of students paying attention and participating in class. The application has been especially beneficial for struggling students, he said.

"What I really like is the kids get instant feedback and the program walks them through each step," he said. "Basically, they have access to a digital teacher at any time."

The iPad tablet computers and software were distributed as part of a one-year pilot program run by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, the educational publishing firm that produced the digital interactive textbook.

The study compares 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.

So far, the LBUSD does not have official results from the study, but the Riverside Unified School District is reporting 90 percent proficiency in classes where the iPad is used compared to 60 percent proficiency in traditional Algebra I classes.

The wireless device has a touch-sensitive screen that allows students to type, draw, write and "turn" pages. The device also has quizzes, step-by-step examples, instructional videos and instant feedback on answers.

Students are allowed to take the iPad home. And, so far, only one out of 70 has been damaged.
"It's pretty amazing," said Hudson principal Cathleen Imbroane. "They take really good care of them."

The students will have to give the iPads back at the end of the school year, but Mills says he's hopeful the iPad Algebra app will eventually become a regular school supply.

"It's not a matter of if, it's when," he said.

Source : Presstelegram