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 2017 Updates
What left the list? Amazon Inspire, Prezi Next, Quizizz
What's new? Itch, Kahoot!, and Teacher Advisor With Watson
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.
CoSpaces caught our eye on the ISTE show floor. It was one of a handful of edtech products looking to ride the wave of interest in VR and AR. However, what sets CoSpaces apart is its focus on creation and not simply consumption of VR experiences. CoSpaces also recently launched a teacher-friendly version with a two-month free trial. If you’re already teaching coding, this could be a way to amp up the engagement in the 2017-2018 school year.
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.
We’ve had our eyes on Goosechase for some time now, but with the launch of an education-friendly edition, it's finally made this list. The pitch for Goosechase is simple: It’s a smartphone-enabled scavenger hunt where players submit photo, video, or text evidence of their finds. While the learning game library is tiny right now, educators can adapt what’s there or create new games.
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.
It seems that Office 365 has been picking up steam, and with the launch of Microsoft Teams back in March of this year, Microsoft has something even Google doesn’t: a Slack competitor. It allows students and teachers to send instant messages, share files, and collaborate in real time with Skype and OneNote integrations. The meeting feature also allows conversations to break out into private video/audio chats, or pre-scheduled chats -- which Slack doesn’t have.
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.
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 Snapchat’s showing some signs of a slowdown, it’s still immensely popular with students. In fact, it’s so popular that many educational tools (like Flipgrid) are trying to incorporate its casual video messaging into formative assessment and classroom communication. Teachers have also begun to explore Snapchat as a way to connect with students, although privacy pitfalls could certainly offer challenges.
IBM has quietly launched Teacher Advisor, a free search engine for classroom materials (including lessons and teaching strategies) for K-5 math teachers. In some ways it’s similar to Amazon’s Inspire efforts, but what distinguishes Teacher Advisor is its integration of Watson, which promises a better search experience. Of course, it’s all about the content, and Teacher Advisor leans on EngageNY, Share My Lesson, and Student Achievement Partners (among others) for trusted resources.