UF's updated Algebra Nation app is simpler to use


Published: Friday, November 15, 2013 at 6:15 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, November 15, 2013 at 6:15 p.m.

Algebra Nation, the Facebook-based algebra app deemed so innovative that the Florida Legislature gifted the University of Florida $2 million for its expansion, has released an update that makes it even more accessible.

Launched earlier this year, the Algebra Nation app contains video tutorials with algebra teachers and tutors from all over the state, plus study guides and an interactive wall where users can ask and answer questions.

The UF Lastinger Center for Learning developed the program with the goal of upping the passage rate on the Algebra I end-of-course exam.

The update, Algebra Nation 2.0, comes with some key improvements in its design and function, said Boaz Dvir, of UF's Lastinger Center.

Most notably, developers have launched a web-based app, so users can access Algebra Nation without having to log into Facebook.

That was an important step for teachers integrating the app into lesson plans, Dvir said. Facebook is a blocked website at many schools. But algebranation.com isn't.

Dvir said 34 school districts in Florida have fully integrated Algebra Nation into classrooms or are very close to doing so. About 4,000 teachers have signed up for Algebra Nation.

The app contains study guides for each section, and teachers can print them out and distribute them to students. But, Dvir said, printing out thousands of pages of study guides may be cost prohibitive for teachers who don't have unlimited printing at their schools.

With the Algebra Nation update, developers decided to distribute classroom bundles of the study guides to any algebra teacher for free. Public, private and charter school algebra teachers can request the free study guide bundles at algebranation.com/workbooks.

Dvir said Algebra Nation has received 195,000 orders already, and they're turning the study guides out as fast as they can.

"We need people to be a little patient with us," he said.

Within 10 days of launching the web-based app, Dvir said more than 20,000 posts — all questions and answers by algebra students — had appeared on the algebra wall.

The app is also "nicer, cleaner, more elegant, even simpler to use and look at," Dvir said.

In the time since the first iteration of Algebra Nation launched, UF was chosen to receive a $250,000 grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for the professional development and networking of Florida algebra teachers.

Dvir said the program could be modeled after Algebra Nation — with videos, interactive "walls" and assessment tools that would help teachers talk to each other about leadership and the most effective ways to teach algebra.

Contact Erin Jester at 338-3166 or erin.jester@gainesville.com.

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