4 Innovative New Tools to Try Next Year

July 09, 2014
Jeff Knutson Senior Manager, Education Content
Common Sense Education


Last week, at the annual ISTE conference in Atlanta, Georgia, hundreds of developers and thousands of tech-forward educators converged for the year's biggest edtech show-and-tell. Virtually every developer in the edtech space was there to show off their latest products. And teachers, tech specialists, librarians, administrators, and other educators gathered to exchange ideas on best practices for tech implementation and to discover the newest tools for teaching and learning.

With the expo hall dominated by some of the biggest names in edtech, ISTE's Startup Pavilion and Pitchfest competition served as a way to highlight an impressive collection of startups and newer names in the field. The three rounds of the Pitchfest were standing room only, and along with my colleagues Tanner Higgin and Erin Wilkey Oh, I was honored to be one of the judges.

Developers in the Startup Pavilion came from every part of the edtech spectrum, each offering a unique perspective on what's useful in education. Products included student-facing content, teacher tools, and even district-level solutions. It was truly exciting to see these innovators together in one space, proposing exciting and inspiring new ways to support teachers and students. Here are just a few of the new products that stood out to us:

  • Curriculet combines the convenience of an e-reader with the power of an online instructional tool. In addition to giving schools and districts another alternative in the book-purchasing pipeline, Curriculet allows teachers to create customized, interactive lessons with content embedded right inside the texts students are reading.

  • eduCanon is one of a handful of new Web-based tools for customizing and remixing online video content. Through the site, teachers can pull video content from a variety of sources (YouTube, Vimeo, Teacher Tube, etc.) and embed the video with classroom-ready questions and other elements at specific points. This has the potential to help make video instruction more engaging and interactive, and it can even help support formative assessment.

  • Listen Edition harnesses the power of public radio content, packaging it for easy use in the classroom. The site acts as a repository of standards-aligned lesson plans that are custom built to center on public radio stories. Lessons are mostly centered on a variety of ELA and social studies topics, but there are also some STEM-related resources.

  • The Wonderment is an online platform from Kidnected World aimed at inspiring kids to create positive global change. Through a fun virtual world with customizable avatars, kids can explore a variety of challenges, each encouraging imagination and global collaboration through a safe online community. The site's aim is to provide a scaffold, guiding kids' wonder toward empowerment and problem solving.