Technology is the topic of the day, and probably will be for some time to come. Rapid developments in technology have revolutionized the way we do just about everything, from socializing to buying socks. So why should the way we teach and learn be left out of this revolution?
Educational Technology (or “EdTech”) refers to the place where technology and education meet. A booming industry, EdTech companies attempt to develop software that uses technological innovations (many of which we’ve already been using for a whole host of purposes) and putting them to the test in classrooms.
While Educational Technologies have long been a staple at online universities, they are starting to be more widely adopted in k-12 classrooms as well.
Here are ten of the most exciting EdTech programs available and how they can help transform teacher and student experiences alike:
What is it? Alma is an LMS (learning management system) that integrates all elements of school in one easy to use online platform. It offers different features and platforms for administrators, teachers, and students. Admins can use it to easily access student info, attendance records, and school-wide analytics. This tool also provides a wealth of tools for teachers like curriculum writing tools, gradebook management, parent-student-teacher communication channels, and report card creation; while students can use their own platform within Alma to keep an eye on their grades, view assignments and check out the academic calendar.
How much does it cost? Alma is free and offers all of its main services for free, though there are packages ranging from $500/year to $30,000 a year which include different levels of training, support, and extra functionality.
What is it? Engrade is an online grading program loaded with features to help teachers do their jobs and to encourage transparency and communication with parents and students.
Teachers can use Engrade to see important analytics about student performance. Parents can check into Engrade at any time to look in on their children’s grades. This is huge. The traditional system of getting the report card at the end of the semester means that by the time parents become aware of their students’ performance, there is little to be done to intervene, communicate or help.
This makes Engrade an important tool for streamlining both how teachers grade and how grades are communicated.
How much does it cost? Engrade is a free service for individual teachers. It can also be implemented for a whole school with EngradePlus, which costs $600/year for every 100 students and has an additional suite of tracking and reporting features.
What is it? LessonCast is a very cool website aimed at creating an online network of teachers through the sharing of lesson plans and teaching materials. Experienced educators can submit PowerPoint presentations, docs, pictures, and video materials to share a lesson idea or a management strategy in under two minutes and thirty seconds.
These bite-sized bits of wisdom and expertise are vetted and reviewed by other teachers and then put on the website. It’s a great place for teachers to share their experiences, ideas, and inspirations with other teachers whom they would otherwise never get to communicate with.
How much does it cost? Free.
What is it? As you may have guessed from the name, SchoolTube is a bit like Youtube for schools. It’s a video-sharing platform on which teachers and students can post video materials. Aimed at creating a sense of community in schools, these videos range from classroom experiences, school rallies, sports events, and even fun moments from the cafeteria.
Put to use in k-12 schools, all SchoolTube videos must be approved by a teacher or admin from the school of the poster before going up – making this a safe, moderated online community tool.
How much does it cost? Free.
What is it? Edmodo is another great online LMS which allows teachers to create small groups for students to collaborate, assign homework, schedule classroom events and quizzes, analyze student progress, and save documents for students to have access to.
It has great integration with Google Apps which is definitely a plus for any educational technology. It also allows parents to get involved by seeing what is going on in the classroom through their own Edmodo app.
How much does it cost? Free
What is it? Why – in our highly digital world – should book reports be confined to the world of poster-board and colored pencils? With Glogster students can easily create highly interactive, multimedia reports for school projects. Kind of like power-point for the K-12 world, Glogster can revolutionize the way students process and present what they’ve learned.
How much does it cost? Glogster offers a few different pricing plans. For a one-time price of $29.99 an individual user can get a subscription to the service. An elementary school teacher can pay $39 per year for up to 30 students, while a secondary school teacher can pay $95 per year for up to 125 students. There is also a plan for an entire faculty — $390 per year for up to 10 educators and up to 250 students.
What is it? Putting the principle behind Kickstarter and GoFundMe to use in the classroom, Donors Choose is a website allowing teachers, parents, students and administration to crowd source for vital resources needed in their schools and communities. Through Donors Choose, schools have been able to purchase new books, technologies, go on trips, and provide adequate services for their students.
How much does it cost? Free.
What is it? Story2 is an incredible tool designed to help students with their college essays. While most resources for students applying to colleges are geared towards standardized tests, Story2 takes a more humanistic approach. Rather than just helping students churn out an essay, Story2 is a tool designed to help students connect with their own lives and find power and confidence in their own storytelling abilities.
Using visual storyboarding tools, video sharing, outline tools and a writer’s toolkit, Story2 is an exciting online course designed not only to produce a great essay but to transform the way students write and communicate their own narratives.
How much does it cost? Story2 offers free trials but for $99 a student can get unlimited access to their EssayBuilder plus a 5-page feedback report on one essay. For $349 students receive full access to EssayBuilder, 3 rounds of written feedback, and 1 hour of online coaching.
What is it? Teachers don’t always have an easy time engaging students, and tools that make the learning process more engaging are much appreciated. Socrative is a fun, interactive cloud-based learning tool that transforms quizzes from a thing of nightmares into a fun game for students. Teachers can easily create simple quizzes in a number of formats that students complete on their smartphones, or on school-owned tablets. The tool tracks student’s performance so that teachers can stay aware of how each student is progressing in regards to the different subject matter.
How much does it cost? Socrative is free for individual students and costs $29.99 for teachers.
What is it? SeeSaw is an incredible online tool which allows students to document their own learning process. By creating online learning journals, students can collage together documents, PDF files, video material, and their own notes allowing them to take charge of their own learning trajectory and create a sense of narrative and focus on their education. SeeSaw is not only about encouraging reflection, but also about sharing and building community. Students can easily share what they’ve been working on in SeeSaw with peers, parents, and teachers. This make SeeSaw a great way for teachers to look in on what students are learning and, more importantly, get a better sense of what their learning process looks like.
How much does it cost? SeeSaw is free for individual students. An individual teacher can purchase the program for their entire classroom for $120 per year while schools can request a quote if interested in implementing SeeSaw schoolwide.