Next week 320 incoming ninth-graders at Socorro High School will study algebra on their brand new iPads.
"These are students who are born into a technology age," said Socorro High School math teacher Elizabeth Giebler. "It's amazing what they have at their fingertips."
The iPads will be used to access the HMH Fuse application. It's a mobile textbook for Algebra 1. Fuse isn't just an algebra textbook transferred onto a mobile device; there are streaming videos and tutorials embedded in the app.
"They need that technology to learn and that's what this is going to do. It's going to bring the mathematics into their mode of learning as opposed to bring the student into ours," Giebler said .
The aim of the pilot program is to reach students through technology and increase their test scores. A similar program implemented in California yielded dramatic results
"They've seen scores go from 40 to 50 advanced proficient to as high as 90 percent," SISD Superintendent Xavier De La Torre said. "We're looking for that same kind of result here in the Socorro school district."
These impressive figures may lead to the question: could an iPad be a better educator than an actual teacher?
"No," Giebler said. "It's actually going to assist the instructor in becoming more of a facilitator during some of the class time. You still need that human interaction and that will never go away."
Students will be allowed to take the iPads home. A Socorro spokesman said it's a way for kids to bring the material, tutor and teacher outside of the classroom.
"It's an exciting day for the district. I can't wait to be out at the schools when kids get their new iPad2s and see what used to be in a text book is no longer there," De La Torre said.