Local schools are proving ground for new version of popular online Algebra Nation tutoring program
GAINESVILLE, Fla. –- This spring, hundreds of students throughout Alachua County are testing a new version of the popular, locally developed, online tutoring platform known as Algebra Nation, with 19 Algebra 1 teachers incorporating the teaching tool into their daily math lessons.
And so far, the teachers say they are seeing the benefits in the platform’s new high-tech features.
Algebra Nation is a web-based learning system created and launched in 2013 by the University of Florida Lastinger Center for Learning in partnership with Study Edge, a Gainesville education tech tutoring company. The platform provides anytime access to instructional videos, live homework help and practice tests for the Algebra 1 end-of-course exam, which students must pass to graduate from high school.
The platform is available for free to Florida schools and now connects algebra teachers and students throughout the state. The program developers say Algebra Nation has evolved into an even more powerful instructional tool.
“We have added complex, new algorithms to Algebra Nation, using test performance data from previous students to create a more personalized learning experience for current and future students,” said Lastinger Center assistant director Phil Poekert. “Students’ success or struggles on the new platform allow for the system to determine whether the students need to be presented with harder or easier material.”
Poekert is also project director of the University of Florida Virtual Learning Lab, which is charged under a federal grant to evaluate and improve Algebra Nation and its impact on students’ overall performance.
New website features track how students are allocating their study time between video lessons and practice problems, and make suggestions about which video tutor would be the best to watch.
“We believe that by adding a layer of personalization to the Algebra Nation system, students will engage in more targeted algebra instruction and achieve greater success on their end-of- year exam,” said Poekert.
Paired with the new Algebra Nation platform, Hawthorne Middle-High School algebra teacher India White has incorporated videos from the tutoring platform into her daily lessons, which she says has found high success with her students. The learning system pushes students to improve as they actively interact with the material throughout the lessons, according to White.
“I’m able to use Algebra Nation as a resource to get the students the concept of the lesson, as well as a reteaching tool,” said White.
Updated practice in the system’s enhanced Test Yourself! Tool have helped prompt this progress for White’s students. Questions at the end of each section help students review the material they just learned, with the difficulty of the questions that a student sees based on his or her individual performance on the Test Yourself! tool.
“The Test Yourself helps make sure you know it,” said Hawthorne 8th grader Walker Propst. “It feels personalized to me.”
The Alachua County pilot program will continue through the rest of the school year as students prepare for the end-of-course exam in Algebra 1, required for high school graduation. White continues to use Algebra Nation in the classroom, interweaving it into lessons. She said the students continue to improve as they become more and more familiar with the system.
“The program has helped, especially with note taking,” said White. “The students feel more confident, and the videos and notes have helped improve scores throughout the class.”
For more information, visit AlgebraNation.com.