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.
April 2017 Updates
What left the list? Google Earth VR, Remind, Toontastic 3D
What's new? The Graide Network, Sown to Grow, Walden, a game
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
One of the SXSW 2017 LAUNCHedu Startup Competition finalists, The Graide Network hopes to gain traction in the tough educational space by tackling a key pain point of teachers: grading. How do they do it? By connecting teachers with a team of trained graders (many of whom are in teacher training programs). The Graide Network sees this as freeing up teachers’ time as well as giving students more thorough feedback, but this approach also begs the question: how would this style of grading impact the relationship between teacher and students, and, perhaps, is it grading itself, not the time it takes, that needs fixing?
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.
Growth mindset has been everywhere the past few years, and has had its share of debate. Even so, every educator can agree that getting students to see learning as a process is key to student-centered learning. This process is fueled by goal-setting and reflection, two skills which can be tough to get students to do well. That’s where Sown to Grow hopes to intervene, by offering a scaffolded way for students to follow a reflective, growth-focused learning process. It’s a novel concept, and one that garnered Sown to Grow a spot on the SXSW 2017 LAUNCHedu stage.
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.
We've long been wondering when an educationally focused streaming video service would take off. As far as earth and life science classrooms are concerned, Smithsonian Earth might be it. For $3.99/month, educators get unlimited access to ultra HD documentaries, nature scenes, and series, with new videos being added monthly. It seems like the right combination of price and quality (although we can't speak to breadth) to gain some traction.
A true passion project, Walden, a game, was released in March in early access, after four years of development by USC’s Game Innovation Lab and its director, Tracy Fullerton. While not specifically designed for schools, Walden is a great example of how some of the most interesting learning experiences in games are percolating within the indie dev community. Walden places players in the role of Henry David Thoreau, in a lovingly recreated Walden, as he spends four seasons “living deliberately.” Each player’s unique choices and experience defines what this means, and in the process, constructs a new path through Thoreau’s text.