The EdTech Eleven: This Month's Must-Know Tools

The hottest tools -- right now -- in edtech.

October 01, 2016
Tanner Higgin Director, Education Editorial Strategy
Common Sense Education


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.

October 2016 Updates: 

What left the list? Books That Grow, Facebook Live, Kahoot!, Pokémon Go, Quizizz, and Words With Friends EDU

What's new? CommonLit, Microsoft OneNote, PocketLab, Remind, Sit With Us, and Swift Playgrounds.



In edtech right now, there's nothing more novel -- or generating more buzz -- than BreakoutEDU. 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.


There's no doubt that the grammar of social media is increasingly visual, and education is one of the most vibrant markets on popular sites like Pinterest and Twitter. A few products have emerged to capitalize, giving educators and students the tools to do graphic design for the web. Canva seems to be emerging as the go-to option.


CommonLit, which recently launched a big update, is a literacy tool that teachers, especially ELA teachers tackling Common Core, need to check out. It’s totally free, spans grades 5-12, and makes it easy to find engaging texts (fiction and non) for students, assign the texts, assess student understanding, and analyze mastery.

Google ExpeditionsGoogle Expeditions

Virtual reality (VR) has been making headlines with help of the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive launches. However, we haven't seen these pricey and tech-heavy VR platforms make their way into classrooms quite yet, but Google Cardboard and specifically the Google Expeditions app have. What remains to be seen is whether the wow factor of low-cost VR is matched by deep learning.

Microsoft OneNoteMicrosoft OneNote

We’ve watched closely as Microsoft has thoughtfully evolved OneNote into a major player in the crowded note-taking space. It’s now achieved feature parity with EverNote and Notability. We’ve also heard a lot of teachers this school year using OneNote shared folders as organization tools for their classrooms.


In edtech years, Nearpod is a grizzled vet. Since 2012 they've been thoughtful about evolving their platform and have emerged as a go-to choice for interactive content delivery. They continue to draw crowds online and at conferences, and they don't shy away from new innovative arenas such as VR.

PocketLabThe PocketLab

Only 4% of our reviews receive a 5-star rating; The PocketLab – a relatively cheap peripheral and app to gather and analyze scientific data -- is the most recent top-rated tool. We’re not the only ones who have taken notice: Google has partnered with them on their Science Journal project.


A major innovator and early success (in the latest edtech boom), Remind is still making headlines. Most recently, they’ve added “Activities,” a way for parents to pay teachers and schools for field trips, fundraisers, and more through the apps using their credit cards. It’s a smart way to build revenue while also providing a useful, timesaving service to schools.

Seesaw: The Learning Journal


In edtech, some tools just click, and Seesaw is one of those tools. They've had 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 their position as the portfolio tool of choice.

Sit With UsSit With Us

Sit With Us aims to break down social boundaries and combat loneliness by encouraging students to have lunch together. It’s a bold, novel concept, and something wholly unique. Even more extraordinary is that its creator is still in high school, and was inspired by her own feelings of exclusion. Our review is in-progress, so stay tuned!

Swift PlaygroundsSwift Playgrounds

There’s no shortage of tools for learning to code. The reason Swift Playgrounds makes this list is because it’s backed by the biggest of players: Apple. It’s free and iPad only, and features polish you’d expect from Apple. Like CodeMonkey and CodeCombat, it also uses puzzle solving as a platform for learning to write actual code. In this case, though, it’s Apple’s custom language for app development: Swift.


Did we miss anything? Let us know!