California testing iPads as algebra textbooks

Students with iPads will have instant access to more than 400 videos from teaching experts walking them through the concepts and assignments, rather than having to rely on the teacher's explanation in class. There is also a homework coach and animated instructions on how to complete assignments.

Sipe said the videos allow teachers to focus on individual instruction rather than walking the entire class through the same examples again and again. The iPad also allows students to take audio or text notes and do assignments right on the device itself, giving the teacher the ability to track their progress in real time.

Sipe added that the pilot project is the first of its kind, which is why his firm elected to conduct an academic study to measure the impact of digital textbooks. The hope is to have initial data on student performance in January, with more complete results available at the end of the school year when the project concludes.