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.
December 2017 Updates
What left the list? Goosechase, Recap, and Teacher Advisor with Watson
What's new? Google Arts & Culture, Metaverse, Zearn
Few tools generate teacher excitement like Breakout EDU, so there was little doubt about Breakout finding its way back on this list with the release of Breakout EDU Digital. This product offers digital versions of the physical Breakout puzzles, which educators can use to create and share custom games. It’s a big step for the company and brings it into competition with quizzing apps -- although perhaps Breakout is in a league of its own.
We’ve seen interest growing in Flipgrid, a super-slick video response tool that lets teachers create class pages, post discussion topics, and elicit video responses from students. Flipgrid’s tagline -- “Use video the way your students do” -- is clear in the tool’s design, which makes formative assessment kinda like FaceTiming. Given it’s available on a ton of platforms and integrates with most major LMSes, we can see this tool really taking off.
You might be familiar with Google Art Project. It’s now been replaced with the revamped Google Arts and Culture, which retains the former project’s museum tours, but adds an impressive array of resources ranging from visual to textual media. What really stands out is the excellent curation that combines these resources in inventive and well-contextualized ways.
Scratch, the long-running creative coding platform, is one of the most beloved tools in edtech. One thing it’s been missing, though, is a fully fleshed-out teacher dashboard. Itch hopes to change that. It aims to be a safer and more easily managed learning environment for Scratch. Inside Itch, teachers and schools can manage and assign video lessons, students can work on and share Scratch projects, and teachers can monitor progress. Take note, though, that Itch, unlike Scratch, is a paid service.
This is Kahoot’s third time making the EdTech Eleven. Why? Because there are few developers as adept at adding new features and generating buzz. Their latest development is Kahoot! Studio, a new game discovery experience (to supplement the existing one) featuring higher-quality games developed by the Kahoot team as well as select partners like National Geographic and Kahoot-approved teachers. While all this is still free, it seems the pieces are being put in place for premium content.
Augmented reality (AR) has been all over the news thanks to Apple’s ARKit (among other advancements). With help of tools like Aurasma, educators have been experimenting with AR for years. Metaverse, however, has pushed further, offering a more complex toolset for AR experience creation. One standout example: Metaverse allows users to string together experiences, creating Breakout EDU-like challenges.
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, so it's a great extension opportunity if students are already using those apps.
We reviewed myHomework Student Planner earlier this year, and at that time it seemed like a tool on the rise. Well, it’s officially arrived; check any app store and you’ll see myHomework Student Planner high in the rankings. Why? We suspect it’s because myHomework carves out a unique space in edtech as an accessible tool for students -- especially those in high school and college -- to wrangle their work deadlines.
Quizlet’s back on the list this month thanks to a trio of significant updates to the popular quizzing platform. The first is a full design refresh that, among other things, makes it clear when creating study sets that Quizlet is a flash card tool above all else. The second change is a brand-new diagram question type that can help students prepare for labeling tests in science classes and beyond. The last new addition is Quizlet’s Verified Creators program, which, like Kahoot, features custom-created content from such partners as Everfi and the Jane Goodall Institute.
Project-based learning (PBL) is tough. To do it right, it needs time, space, and buy-in. Workbench is trying to help with this, offering a “comprehensive” PBL platform that integrates with LMSes, SISes, and Google Classroom, as well as allows teachers across a school or district to assign and manage projects and to share them with other teachers. These projects benefit from content partnerships with providers like Makey Makey and Dremel and are aligned to standards. The big question on our minds is how Workbench handles another tricky aspect of PBL: assessment.
One detail we pay attention to when curating the EdTech Eleven is the popularity of tools in our product review database. Zearn has been burning up the charts, rising very quickly to become one of the most-visited reviews. We suspect it’s because Zearn is a thorough, well-thought-through math curriculum. Zearn has put together a nice sequence of refreshers, instruction, practice, and small-group work that mixes video instruction and interactives with paper-and-pencil activities.