Top Pick

Best EdTech of 2017

The editorial staff at Common Sense Education evaluated and rated approximately 180 tools for learning potential in 2017, and all we can say is that it was a great year for edtech. Some years it's hard to select the most engaging and supportive tools for students, teachers, and schools. But as we looked back at a year that was divisive in so many ways, we had no trouble narrowing down our top picks to the 25 best apps, games, and websites.

What you'll find on this list are tools that get students to develop a true love of writing, engage in authentic scientific practices, collaborate across the globe, and make incredibly artistic and technical creations; you'll even find a couple of tools just for the teacher. As you look down the list and notice how many five-star tools we rated this year, you'll begin to see how thoughtful design that empowers students and uplifts teachers really makes a win-win for all.

Interested in seeing our past winners? Check out the archive of our favorites from 2013-2016.

Arts and SEL

Peekapak Visit Website: https://www.peekapak.com
Complete social-emotional learning units in a neat and tidy package
Grades K-5
Type Website
Price Free, Paid
Common Sense says
Teachers say
Minecraft: Education Edition Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Stellar collaboration tools, controls make Minecraft classroom-ready
Grades K-12
Type Game
Price Paid
Platforms Mac, Windows
Common Sense says
Teachers say
Adobe Photoshop Express Publisher: Adobe
Top-notch photo editor helps perfect pics for creative projects
Grades 6-12
Type App
Price Free
Platforms Android, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Windows Phone, Apps for Windows
Common Sense says
Teachers say
Google Arts & Culture Visit Website: https://www.google.com/culturalinstitute/beta/
Excellent curation and an unmatched art collection invites exploration
Grades 6-12
Type Website
Price Free
Common Sense says
Teachers say Not Yet Rated
Adobe Spark Visit Website: https://spark.adobe.com
Super-flexible design tool for crafting fabulous images, videos, and sites
Grades 8-12
Type Website
Price Free
Common Sense says
Teachers say

ELA

Epic! - Books for Kids Publisher: Epic! Creations
Free, expansive digital library unlocks treasure trove of books
Grades K-6
Type App
Price Free, Free to Try
Platforms Android, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Kindle Fire, Fire phone
Common Sense says
Teachers say
NaNoWriMo Young Writers Program Visit Website: https://ywp.nanowrimo.org/
Wildly engaging contest turns students into novelists in 30 days
Grades 4-12
Type Website
Price Free
Common Sense says
Teachers say
Checkology Visit Website: https://checkology.org/
Go-to news-literacy site is an excellent primer on media issues
Grades 7-12
Type Website
Price Free
Common Sense says
Teachers say
Walden, a game Publisher: USC Games
Thoughtfully designed game illuminates Thoreau's writing, philosophy
Grades 8-12
Type Game
Price Free, Paid
Platforms Mac, Windows
Common Sense says
Teachers say Not Yet Rated

Math and Science

Fog Stone Isle Visit Website: http://cignition.com/
Fun virtual world builds deep understanding of fractions
Grades 3-6
Type Website
Price Free, Paid
Common Sense says
Teachers say
AMAZE Visit Website: http://amaze.org
Quirky, funny videos give thoughtful answers to kids' sex-ed questions
Grades 5-8
Type Website
Price Free
Common Sense says
Teachers say Not Yet Rated
Inq-ITS Visit Website: www.inqits.com
Virtual labs epitomize the NGSS Science and Engineering Practices
Grades 5-10
Type Website
Price Free to Try, Paid
Common Sense says
Teachers say
Niche - a genetics survival game Publisher: Stray Fawn Studio
Immersive genetics sim puts evolution in students' hands
Grades 7-12
Type Game
Price Paid
Platforms Linux, Mac, Windows
Common Sense says
Teachers say Not Yet Rated
BioInteractive Visit Website: http://www.hhmi.org/biointeractive
High-quality multimedia brings biological research to life
Grades 9-12
Type Website
Price Free
Common Sense says
Teachers say Not Yet Rated

Social Studies

National Museum of African American History and Culture Visit Website: https://nmaahc.si.edu
Powerful stories and media centralize African-American history
Grades K-12
Type Website
Price Free
Common Sense says
Teachers say Not Yet Rated
PenPal Schools Visit Website: https://penpalschools.com/
Collaborative lessons connect students across the globe
Grades 3-8
Type Website
Price Free
Common Sense says
Teachers say
Expeditions Publisher: Google Inc
Fire up the warp drive to bring VR field trips to your classroom
Grades 3-12
Type App
Price Free
Platforms Android, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch
Common Sense says
Teachers say
Beyond the Bubble Visit Website: http://beyondthebubble.stanford.edu/
Top-quality assessments challenge students to think like historians
Grades 6-12
Type Website
Price Free
Common Sense says
Teachers say Not Yet Rated
Political Animals Publisher: Positech Games
Charming political campaign sim mixes data analysis and civics
Grades 8-12
Type Game
Price $14.99
Platforms Linux, Mac, Windows
Common Sense says
Teachers say Not Yet Rated

Teacher Tools

Spiral Visit Website: https://spiral.ac/
Provide instant feedback with collaborative, multimedia assessment tool
Grades 3-8
Type Website
Price Free, Free to Try, Paid
Common Sense says
Teachers say
Screencastify Visit Website: https://www.screencastify.com/
Easy screen-recording tool facilitates outside-the-box teaching
Grades 3-12
Type Website
Price Free, Paid
Common Sense says
Teachers say

Tech Skills

EduTyping Visit Website: https://www.edutyping.com/
Complete and entertaining typing program for all ages
Grades K-12
Type Website
Price Free to Try, Paid
Common Sense says
Teachers say Not Yet Rated
Itch Visit Website: https://www.itchcode.com/
Full-featured tool makes teaching with Scratch easier than ever
Grades 1-12
Type Website
Price Free to Try, Paid
Common Sense says
Teachers say Not Yet Rated
Adventure Time Game Wizard - Draw Your Own Adventure Time Games Publisher: Cartoon Network
Terrific option to teach basic game design in-app or on paper
Grades 4-8
Type App
Price Paid
Platforms Android, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch
Common Sense says
Teachers say Not Yet Rated
Codesters Visit Website: https://www.codesters.com/
Differentiated text-based coding makes for truly authentic experiences
Grades 4-8
Type Website
Price Free to Try, Paid
Common Sense says
Teachers say