Over the course of a year, we at Common Sense Education look at a dizzying number of edtech tools. Invariably, a large portion of these end up being websites. In terms of access, Web-based tools tend to do the most for the widest number of students and teachers. From tried-and-true resource websites to Web-based learning management systems, Chrome plug-ins, and everything in between, these tools help you boost learning right from your browser. Here's our list of 2015's most "wow"-worthy websites and Web-based edtech tools:
Price: Free to Try, Paid (contact developer for pricing); Platform: Web; Grades: 9–12
A.D.A.M. tops many other 3-D interactive anatomy tools with its extensive curriculum-building supports. For students, the site's assessments, digital dissection tools, and stellar 3-D-viewing features help promote higher-order thinking and learning.
Price: Free; Platform: Web; Grades: 2–12
Over 60 design challenges get kids planning, building, testing, and iterating their own engineering projects. Kids can engage in a true design process and utilize an amazing network of supportive experts, all while making real-world connections.
Price: Free; Platform: Web, Chrome plug-in; Grades: 7-12
Students can read, analyze, annotate, and even interact with others around any text on the Web. From hip-hop songs to news sites and literature to historical documents -- you name it, it's here. Dedicated tools just for education help teachers and students harness the site's best features in a smaller, safer space.
Price: Free; Platform: Web, Chrome add-on; Grades: 7-12
Ditch your red pens and make feedback to students' writing more actionable. Multimedia commenting features, from audio comments to video attachments, offer a rich mosaic of support for the revision process. Teachers can offer specific feedback to individuals, groups, or an entire class.
Price: Free; Platform: Web; Grades: 5-8
Turn your kids into actual science detectives with these fascinating design challenges. Within each lesson, engaging videos introduce realistic problems before kids dive into a hands-on investigation. From there, each unit closes with a design challenge where students can apply what they've learned.
Price: Free; Platform: Web; Grades: 3-5
These powerful, inquiry-based science units capitalize on elementary school-age kids’ natural curiosity. Lessons tend to utilize easy-to-find, household-like supplies (think popsicle sticks, balloons, and the like) and ask students to puzzle through scientific phenomena as they consider some very intriguing questions.
Price: Free; Platform: Web; Grades: 6-12
These are the same stellar video clips you'd expect from the popular TV series, but here they're combined with intriguing student activities. Each lesson masterfully blends learning content with a performance task to promote serious, sophisticated science engagement. Game-like features within some modules enhance the fun, and a slick design gives the site extra polish.
Price: Free; Platform: Web; Grades: 7-10
Aspiring filmmakers converge to create video content for the classroom. This site's video contests have the potential to boost authentic learning and help forge bonds between students and teachers. On top of this, the clever premade videos are a boon for both traditional and flipped-class learning.
Price: Free, Paid (contact developer for pricing); Platform: Web, iOS, Android, Kindle; Grades: 7–12
Help students take charge of their learning with this go-to LMS (learning management system). Here, they'll find opportunities to engage in online discussions, assignments, and assessments; access to teachers and peers is only a message away. Teachers can upload resources, initiate collaborative tasks, annotate and evaluate writing, and design meaningful assessments.
Price: Free (for educators), $49/student; Platform: Download; Grades: 6-12
This adaptable, engaging 3-D-design tool gives kids the power to create whatever they desire, from buildings to abstract designs. It's fun and stimulating, and it guides students clearly. Though the tool can take time to learn, students will gain truly useful, transferable skills, and they're bound to build new cross-curricular connections.
Price: Free; Platform: Web; Grades: 6–12
Designing 3-D objects has never been easier or more rewarding. Tinkercad takes a big step toward making 3-D design more accessible and social. With a series of short, engaging, introductory lessons, the program gets students working from the get-go and primes them to participate in the online community.
Price: Free to try, Paid (contact developer for pricing); Platform: Web; Grades: 8–12
Learn-to-code programs for kids too often give a narrow definition of what can actually be created with code; Vidcode expands the options, helping girls (and boys) see the value of code in the greater context of our culture. The program allows for quick creation, using kids' own photos and videos for built-in engagement and a personal touch.
Price: Free; Platform: Web, iOS; Grades: 3–8
Use these concept-based, adaptive fraction tutorials and practice sets to support meaningful, differentiated instruction. Students encounter and learn about fractions at a conceptual level; they'll get practice using pie pieces, number lines, and more.