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IES Contract

Title: An On-Line Professional Development Program for FluidMath
Center: NCER Year: 2009
Principal Investigator: Carney, Donald Awardee: Fluidity Software, Inc.
Program: Small Business Innovation Research      [Program Details]
Award Period: 2.5 years Award Amount: $850,000
Type: Phase II Development Award Number: EDIES09C0012

Product Video Demonstration:

Purpose: Research demonstrates that technology-focused interventions to teach math and science require substantive professional development prior to classroom implementation. This project is creating an online professional development (OPD) platform for training teachers to integrate FluidMath into basic algebra practice. FluidMath is a software program that recognizes handwritten math formulae and sketches drawn on the screen of a pen-enabled computer. The software then generates solutions, graphs, and dynamic animations. For example, a teacher can write the algebraic equation of a straight line on the screen and prompt the computer to generate an exact plot of the line. Coefficients in the equation can be altered by the teacher to demonstrate the subsequent effect on the line on the graph.

Project Activities: The project will follow an ongoing process whereby a prototype of the user interface and content for the lessons will first be developed. Following prototype development, expert teachers will access the prototypes and provide feedback. The prototype will then be refined in response to teacher feedback in an iterative process. A chat room for teacher interaction to discuss challenges, successes, and to share examples will also be developed. To assess feasibility and usability, and test the promise of the OPD for improving teacher practice and for enhancing algebra test scores, the OPD for integrating FluidMath into algebra classes will be evaluated in 10 algebra classes over a school year. Analyses will examine teacher use of the technology and its promise for increasing student algebra.

Products: The OPD platform will include lessons to guide teachers in using FluidMath for teaching algebra topics and principles. OPD will also include a chat room and discussion board, and will be moderated by an expert teacher/moderator to provide real-time technical assistance. OPD will focus more on pedagogy rather than on programming issues, as FluidMath does not require learning programming language or tedious sequences of button pushes.