The University of Florida’s Lastinger Center for Learning announced last week that Microsoft U.S. provided almost $1 million in funding to enhance its digital platform, Math Nation, to also serve elementary students preparing for middle school.
In response to the swift transition to distance learning due to COVID-19, the platform was made free to any school in the country through August 31, 2020, providing 24-hour access to thousands of free instructional videos and on-demand support for middle and high school mathematics. With this additional funding, Math Nation developers will build adaptive learning tools aimed at helping students prepare for the rigor of secondary mathematics.
“We care about students and their access to high-quality instructional materials,” said Dr. Philip Poekert, the director of the Lastinger Center. “During these extraordinary times, it is critical to keep students learning and mastering mathematics. We are grateful to Microsoft for their generous support to build additional resources and serve more students.”
Math Nation provides a comprehensive digital textbook for middle grades math (6-8), Algebra 1, Geometry, and Algebra 2 courses as well as PSAT and SAT preparation materials. The platform includes more than 5,000 engaging instructional videos led by dynamic virtual co-teachers, real-time assessment tools, and live help from experts. Built with accessibility in mind, Math Nation is also mobile-friendly. Even students with limited access to broadband can still take advantage of Math Nation by downloading videos to watch offline.
Microsoft recognizes the Lastinger Center as a national leader developing high-impact, technology-enabled educational supports for teachers and students. The $900,000 in funding enables developers to build an adaptive learning tool focused on preparing students for success in the middle grades.
“Too often, students in elementary and middle school reach a point where they become discouraged and intimidated by mathematics,” said Kate Johnson, the president of Microsoft U.S. “At a time when teachers are relying more than ever on innovative technologies to bring their lessons to life, providing these students with the tools and resources they need to be successful is of the utmost importance. The University of Florida’s commitment to providing Math Nation for no cost to any school will help students across the nation continue to receive the high-quality math education they need and deserve.”
The new OnRamp to Middle Grades supported by Microsoft will diagnose and remediate critical K-5 grade mathematics concepts and skills using an adaptive diagnostic assessment. This information is used to place each student on their own personalized learning path. Student data will be provided to teachers in real time so that they can quickly identify topics on which to remediate at both the individual and classroom levels. The startup diagnostic tool pilot begins this summer, with refinements and further development expected to be complete by summer 2021.
Housed within the College of Education, the Lastinger Center is a national leader in the design, delivery, and scaling of technology-enabled educational systems to transform teaching and learning. Focused on critical milestones of kindergarten preparedness, third grade reading proficiency, and ninth grade algebraic proficiency, the Lastinger Center envisions a world where every child and educator, regardless of circumstances, experiences high-quality learning every day. Since its founding in 2002, it’s leveraged private and public funding to develop high-impact programs, including Early Learning Florida, the Literacy Matrix, and Math Nation.