Things move fast in the edtech world, and we hear all the time from teachers how hard it can be to keep up. This is why we've created the EdTech Eleven, our monthly list of noteworthy tools generating buzz in the edtech world. While these aren't recommendations or ratings (you have to check out our Top Picks for that), what you'll find on the EdTech Eleven is a quick and current list of trending tools you might want to check out.
June 2017 Updates
What left the list? The Graide Network, Sown to Grow, Smithsonian Earth
What's new? Clips, Minecraft: Education Edition, Prezi Next
Apps that help people create beautiful, web-first designs are on the rise. From Canva to Sway and now Adobe Spark, consumers and educators have lots of options. Spark, however, stands out due to sheer versatility. It combines the functionality of former Adobe apps Slate, Post, and Voice, offering students and teachers lots of options to create visual presentations and stories.
Bitmoji, an app that lets users create their own personalized emoji, is the second most popular free app in the Apple store; Snap bought it in 2016. There's no doubt it's trending, but why did it make an edtech list? Because like Bitstrips before it, Bitmoji has caught fire with educators; we've seen them use their Bitmojis to engage students as well as their PLNs.
In edtech right now, there's nothing more novel -- or generating more buzz -- than Breakout EDU. It brings the popular puzzle-room phenomenon to classrooms through purchasable physical kits or a DIY guide to building your own. What has really set them apart thus far, though, is their vibrant community of educators sharing stories and collaborating on new scenarios.
Snap (formerly Snapchat) has changed the social media game with playful, fast video creation and sharing. Apple is the latest major player to issue a response with its Clips app, which allows users to capture, edit, and trick out short videos much like you'd see in a snap. Given Clips' ability to layer video with text and graphics, we can see students using it to whip up videos that showcase learning or teachers using it to experiment instructionally.
A game that has to be seen to be believed, Everything is an ambitious project by artist and game designer David O'Reilly, who was inspired by the interconnectedness of the universe (and the writing of Alan Watts) and aimed to create a game where the player could be, or play, anything -- from a tree to a planet to a virus. While aimed at consumers, it's an experience that likely could have profound SEL value in classrooms.
While it's been a longtime favorite of classrooms, Google Earth has been showing its age in recent years. Fortunately, Google has given this classroom standby a fresh coat of paint and optimized the platform for web and Android. What's particularly exciting in this update are the new guided tours that dive into intriguing regions as well as 3D imagery of iconic places such as the Grand Canyon.
Last year, Microsoft stepped in and turned MinecraftEDU into Minecraft: Education Edition, adding teacher-friendly features. The latest addition to the platform -- Code Builder -- follows the lead of a popular mod called ComputerCraft. Code Builder allows students to learn computational thinking and coding inside of Minecraft. This feature integrates Scratch, Tynker, and Microsoft's MakeCode, making it a great extension opportunity if students are already using those apps.
For those looking to put a new spin on PowerPoint-style presentations, Prezi has been the go-to tool. It turned traditional 2D decks into 3D spaces, allowing presenters to relate information spatially. Prezi Next is their first major revision, introducing more control of presentations: Presenters now can freely move through the presentation (versus following a set path) and can get data from users. While they've targeted the corporate market, there's still potential for teachers here.
Video rules the web, and, for students, it's increasingly how they consume and communicate. Recap hopes to capitalize on this, offering a means for students to record video reflections on teacher prompts that help document and assess learning. Teachers then can share these reflections with other students, educators, or parents to facilitate dialogue and build connections.
While Rewordify's visual design won't win any awards, it's one of those free, functional, web-based tools that teachers use and love because it just plain works. With Rewordify, teachers can quickly simplify text to differentiate lessons and to make readings more accessible, and students can gain access to texts they'd otherwise struggle with while also learning new words.
In edtech, some tools just click, and Seesaw is one of those. They've seen a meteoric rise over the past year, thanks in large part to filling a real need for teachers: helping students share work and progress with parents. It seems like each month Seesaw adds new functionality that cements its position as the portfolio tool of choice.