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.
March 2018 Updates
What left the list? Breakout EDU, Flipgrid, Itch, Quizlet, Workbench
What's new? Cozmo, Florence, Makers Empire, PlantSnap, Waypoint EDU
Remember the digital pet Tamagotchi from the '90s? Take that concept of caring for a digital pet, give it a high-tech robot body and the personality of WALL-E, and voilà! You have a Cozmo. The Cozmo app controls the Cozmo robot by Anki. To play with Cozmo, you have to "feed" and "maintain" it like you would care for a robot or pet in the real world. However, these maintenance activities are just part of the experience. The app offers a variety of interactive games, an exploration mode, and a Code Lab where you can use block coding to alter Cozmo's existing activities or create new programs from scratch.
While we often think of social and emotional learning (SEL) as the domain of building discrete skills such as empathy or perseverance, it's also important for students to learn how to form healthy relationships -- both platonic and romantic. While there is a ton of non-digital media out there with stories about friendship and love, what about apps and games? Enter Florence, a story-based app about a young woman's first love and how it shapes her life. It'd work great for teens but might be a bit challenging in a classroom given the $2.99 price tag.
You might be familiar with Google Art Project. It's now been replaced with the revamped Google Arts & 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.
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.
Three-dimensional printing is certainly cool, but it can be tough to make work in a classroom without supporting resources. Makers Empire helps by enabling students to create, download, and print original or community-based objects. Teachers looking for a solid approach to bringing the four C's (creativity, communication, collaboration, and critical thinking) into their classroom will be pleasantly surprised at how well Makers Empire can help achieve this goal, thanks to 130 lesson plans and a searchable library of designs.
Augmented reality (AR) has been all over the news thanks to Apple's ARKit (among other advancements). With the 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 is Metaverse, which 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.
Smartphones have been a great boon to science education, offering opportunities for students to run experiments, gather data, and document the natural world. On that last point, PlantSnap takes a pretty big leap. The pitch is simple: With PlantSnap students can take pictures of plants -- including flowers -- as well as mushrooms and trees and get back instant data on what they're looking at. The developers claim the app can identify 90 percent of what's out there, although getting accurate results will require some precise photo-taking.
Thanks to Geocaching and GooseChase EDU, smartphone-enabled scavenger hunts have been a long-trending topic in edtech. Waypoint EDU is the latest player in the space, and they've added a couple unique features that make great use of smartphones, including the ability to define a playfield as well as the inclusion of augmented reality assets to up the engagement. Unfortunately, there are only two built-in hunts so far, but teachers are free to create their own.
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.