Publisher Touts 20-Point Boost in Student Performance with Textbooks for iPad
With Apple announcing its iBooks Textbooks initiative yesterday, the company has been pushing its view that the iPad can help revolutionize education by keeping students engaged with unprecedented levels of interactivity.
In an attempt to assess the effect of iPad textbooks on student performance, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) performed a year-long pilot program using an iPad version of the company's Algebra 1 textbook for middle school students. The study, conducted at Amelia Earhart Middle School in Riverside, California, saw 78% students taking the course using the iPad textbook rank as "Proficient" or "Advanced" in the subject, compared to only 58% of students using the traditional print textbook.
The first assessment of the pilot— Riverside's district Algebra benchmark –took place during the second trimester of the 2010–2011 year. Students using HMH Fuse scored an average of 10 percentage points higher than their peers. The app's impact was even more pronounced after the California Standards Test in spring 2011, on which HMH Fuse students scored approximately 20 percent higher than their textbook-using peers.
Educators noted increased motivation on the part of students using the iPad app, as well as the personal level of interactivity, as factors contributing to student success. Students also found the iPad experience more natural and put them more in charge of their own learning, factors that increased student interest and engagement.
One important consideration is that the iPad textbook offered by HMH was not an official iBooks Textbook as introduced by Apple yesterday. The publisher's Fuse program has offered iPad versions of its Algebra 1, Algebra 2, and Geometry textbooks as apps in the App Store since last year. The apps are currently offered as free sample downloads with the full textbooks available via in-app purchase at $59.99 each, considerably higher than Apple's maximum price of $14.99 for titles in the iBooks Textbooks program.
HMH was the only one of Apple's three main partner publishers to not release any iBooks Textbooks at yesterday's event, with Pearson and McGraw-Hill each releasing a small handful of titles to kick off the program. It seems that HMH may now be working to transition its Fuse program to iBooks Textbooks, accounting for the later launch of its titles.