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

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

January 30, 2017
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.

February 2017 Updates 

What left the list? CommonLit, Dragonbox Big Numbers, ReadWorks Digital

What's new? Checkology, Explain Everything, Toontastic 3D




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.

BreakoutEDUBreakout EDU

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.

checkology checkology Virtual Classroom

Created by the News Literacy Project -- a nonpartisan nonprofit focused on building students' digital literacy -- checkology Virtual Classroom offers students a blended learning experience that helps them practice the skill of separating fact from fiction by using real-world stories and examples. We've heard some buzz around this tool recently and for good reason: It seems perfectly positioned to help teachers tackle the challenging media circumstances students now face. 

Explain EverythingExplain Everything

Explain Everything Classic has long been one of the most popular tools in the crowded interactive whiteboard and lesson genre. While we rated Explain Everything Classic highly, we noted the complex design vs. competitors such as Educreations. With this brand-new revision, titled simply Explain Everything, the app has undergone a total visual overhaul that seems to offer a more elegant, intuitive experience and adds new features such as the ability to collaborate on projects. Teachers should take note, however, that our privacy evaluation uncovered some concerns.


There aren't many -- if any -- tools out there like GoNoodle, which provides video- and game-based "brain breaks" of physical activity for students. That might explain why we've seen GoNoodle take a big leap this school year, emerging as one of the top trending tools on Common Sense Education.

Google Earth VRGoogle Earth VR

VR hasn't quite taken off the way many thought it would, but it might have its first "killer app" in Google Earth VR. While we haven't gotten our hands on it, those who have seem to be in agreement: It's an extraordinary, perspective-altering experience that realizes the full potential of the Google Earth platform. It's a surefire hit for classrooms that can afford the costly HTC Vive platform.


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, time-saving service to schools.

Seesaw: The Learning Journal


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.

Space by TinybopSpace by Tinybop

While there's no shortage of apps about space, Tinybop's take on this genre is of special interest given their pedigree as a prolific developer of super-stylish apps. Space is their latest, and it follows the classic formula that earned Tinybop's Infinite Arcade a spot on our Best EdTech of 2016 list; sure, it looks good, but it also features elegant play-based learning about our solar system.


There's really no other app out there like TinyTap, a tool that helps teachers create, share, and publish bite-sized interactive lessons like the ones you'd see on an educational website. We've followed their development for a while and watched as they've evolved and added new, useful features. The latest on the list, "Talk or Type," makes the tool more accessible, allowing students to respond to questions by speaking or writing.

Toontastic 3DToontastic 3D

The first Toontastic was one of our earliest 5-star rated apps, and it garnered wide acclaim and a coveted Google buyout for the developer, Launchpad Toys. This revised version is the developer's first release as part of Google. The easy-to-create animation (via touchscreen drawing and photo taking) and whimsical puppet-style storytelling from the original Toontastic remains; however, this version adds a slick new 3D look that gives the app depth in more ways than one.


Did we miss anything? Let us know!


Quizster Quizster

Thanks for the helpful article. We’d also like to throw Quizster into the mix as Quizster is quite different from the others mentioned above. With Quizster, students take pictures of their work and the teacher grades the work digitally via their phone, tablet or laptop. Quizster helps to organize the mounds of work and back-and-forth feedback and also provides a great digital portfolio. See for more info.