New Android App Makes Math Adaptive for Students

By: Allan Folz
Edison Gauss Publishing is in search of elementary schools wishing to serve as Beta testers for a new classroom app they are releasing. The app is Android-based. Schools with 7″  or larger  tablets and a wireless network which the tablets can regularly connect to will benefit from the program, although internet connectivity is not required and not part of the Beta program.
Edison Gauss Publishing’s current product line is a suite of math apps that cover the foundational elements of arithmetic and basic number sense for 1st through 6th graders. Their suite has three apps, one each for whole numbers, decimals, and fractions. The new app, which is being Beta tested, provides network capability to automatically pass students’ practice results to a teacher using his or her own tablet.
The pedagogical approach of Edison Gauss’ apps is for being in support of blended learning. Students receive instruction from a teacher and use the tablet technology to practice what they are learning. Proficiency is achieved through repetition and practice — like a golf swing or shooting free throws. Allan says they think of the apps like a good teacher’s aide. The apps perform the rote work of generating problems, grading answers, and summarizing practice results, thereby freeing teachers to concentrate on instruction and coaching.
From the technology stand-point,  their apps have two fundamental features which set them apart from the typical offerings in the app marketplaces: an adaptive problem generator and screen captures of student’s work.
The adaptive problem generator monitors the student’s progress and automatically increases the difficulty as problems are solved both correctly and quickly. Conversely, repeated mistakes will have the problem generator decrease the difficulty so as not to overwhelm or discourage the student. The goal is to achieve a balance between what once would have been rote drilling, and the repetition necessary to internalize learned activitites.
The real game-changer is their screen capture technology. The apps are designed for a student to use the touch screen as virtual slate to work-out solutions to math problems. Additionally, the software performs a screen capture when the student submits their answer. The screen capture then serves as a work-product that teachers and parents can use as a detailed review of the student’s work.
If errors are being made, from the screen captures it is possible to determine a likely cause. For instance, repeated random errors might indicate a focus or concentration problem. Perhaps the student is watching television or doesn’t have a quiet place for doing their homework. Frequent mistakes around specific numbers might indicate the need for extra practice on math facts. Finally, conceptual errors in the strategy the student is using to solve the problem can be seen and remedied through additional one-on-one instruction.
Customers to date have primarily been parents looking for a more rigorous approach than is  found in typical educational games and apps. However, their goal is to have their apps used by teachers in a classroom environment. To that end, the new app adds a connectivity component to automatically share the screen captures and summary data from students’ tablets to the teacher’s device. Without the connectivity component, student’s work would have to be accessed directly from the student’s tablet. While this is not a problem for parents, with only one or two children and one or two tablets, it does not scale to classroom usage where a teacher might have 25-30 students and as many tablets.
Apply for the beta program to test the new connectivity app for syncing practice results between student and teacher devices. Their full suite of math apps will also be provided as part of the Beta program. Edison Gauss Publishing’s apps are currently available in the app stores for Google Play, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble. Apps for iOS are scheduled for release in fall 2014.
Allan Folz is Co-founder of Edison Gauss Publishing, based in Portland, OR.

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