8 Educational Technologies That Are Changing The Classroom

Whether it’s a university computer lab or a middle school audience, technology in the classroom is playing a bigger role in the teaching styles of today’s educators. New tools are helping to streamline the collaboration between teachers and their digitally-native students.

EdTech for Schools

Image via: edtechreview.in

Image via: edtechreview.in

 

Joyce Kasman Valenza, Ph.D. is the Director of the MLIS Program at Rutgers University. If you asked her about EdTech in schools she would speak of the importance of curating the best content, apps, resources, tools and instruction for students.  She is a firm believer in the critical importance of creating and modeling the management of dashboards or “parking lots.” Surprised? What exactly does a parking lot have to do with technology?

“Who is going to be the one who helps us teachers and learners makes sense of the emerging digital landscape by building the most useful parking lot? I know this metaphor is not perfect, but there is a need to park educational resources in some sort of schema to manage learning and digital workflow. We create schema using existing tools, or parking lots, like LibGuides, Moodle (and other LMS), Google Sites and Classroom, and a variety of social media curation tools. Libraries use LibGuides and discovery systems. Various vendors that call themselves aggregators create strategies for parking content and resources. All of them have useful affordances and some constraints.” – Joyce Kasman Valenza, Ph.D

 

Image via: joycevalenzafan.blogspot.com

Image via: joycevalenzafan.blogspot.com

 

Academic institutions, educators, and even students all have a huge array of products and services constantly fighting for their attention and support. We took the liberty of examining eight of today’s most widely used EdTech platforms and the reasons why schools, educators, and even students love them. There are even a couple “hacks” included, just for good measure.

 

Image via: blackboard.com

Image via: blackboard.com

1. Blackboard

For: K-12, University, Enterprise Educators

User Base: 80% of the world’s top academic institutions use Blackboard | 1 in 3 US school districts | Over 20 million K-12 students.

Hacks: Never deal with physical money on campus again using Blackboard Transact.

Blackboard is the most widely used learning management system in the world and boasts a stack of powerhouse products to handle a variety of issues. Blackboard Learn is their comprehensive online academic tools to help educators structure the class. Blackboard Connect sends notifications to teachers that relay important news and updates about classes, students, and university info.

 

Image via: blackboard.com

Image via: blackboard.com

 

Blackboard even has an answer to integrating commerce and security – educators can use Transact to simplify purchases on campus. Unlock the power of data with Blackboard Analytics, a powerful tool that helps teachers utilize the large amounts of information processed by their schools and universities for classroom purposes. At the K-12 level, Blackboard Engage helps parents connect with educators by providing an interface for parents to check calendars, announcements, and even field trips!

 

Image via: moodle.org

Image via: moodle.org

 

2. Moodle

For: K-12, University, Enterprise Educators

User Base: Over 56 million students | More than 5.9 million courses available | 120 languages

Hacks: Host a classroom with thousands of students

Moodle is an all-in-one online interface that is completely open source and extremely customizable. It has a huge community of users and developers that support its growth all over the world. It’s available in 120 languages and allows for class sizes ranging from a few students to millions. Can you imagine a thousand students in a regular classroom?!

 

Image via: moodle.org

Image via: moodle.org

 

Moodle features a simplistic drag and drop interface to take advantage of popular functions like the forums, wikis, chats, and blogs that are all available via Moodle’s world-renowned content library. Completely free and always up to date, Moodle is being used everywhere from major institutions like Shell, the London School of Economics, and Microsoft to universities and K-12 classrooms. Educators can add or remove features to tailor Moodle to their exact academic needs!

 

Image via: sakaiproject.org

Image via: sakaiproject.org

 

3. Sakai

For: University, Enterprise Educators

User Base: 1.25 million US Students | 4 million Global Students

Hacks: Users can develop their own personal growth E-Portfolio’s

Drawing from experiences outsides of the academic world, Sakai is an open source learning, teaching, research, and collaboration tool. It is used all over the world by large universities and small colleges as well as government organizations, research societies, and political parties.

 

Image via: sakaiproject.org

Image via: sakaiproject.org

 

The newest release, Sakai 10, was developed and created solely for educators to better manage their interactions with students. For example, Nat Clymer, a professor at Rutgers University, teaches a Photojournalism course using Sakai and uses the Lessons tool to let students anonymously post their photographs. Peers can review them anonymously and the peer scores automatically factor into each student’s grade. Student’s can even create their own E-Portfolio to highlight important work, share it with collaborators, or save it to use after the class.

 

Image via: brightspace.com

Image via: brightspace.com

 

4. Brightspace

For: K-12, University, Enterprise Educators

User Base: 15 million students worldwide

Hacks: Allows educators to identify which students needs help before they fall behind

Easy, flexible, and smart, Brightspace takes into account the diversity of today’s learners. It takes advantage of advanced algorithms to create personalized learning paths for each student’s that are neatly displayed on a Progress Dashboard. Educators can map, predict, even reroute individual student learning outcomes as well as create rubrics to evaluate quizzes, assignments, discussions, and more.

 

Image via: brightspace.com

Image via: brightspace.com

 

Brightspace is loaded with an arsenal of tools that educators can use to fine tune their teaching styles. It is all about results. With the new release of their mobile app “Pulse” they allow educators to continue “teaching their way” while taking advantage of features like “Predictive Analysis” on the go. They can identify and help students who may be at risk of falling behind whenever they have time.

EdTech For Educators

Image via: amplify.com

Image via: amplify.com

 

We reached out to Professor Skye Christensen at San Francisco State University who teaches “Media Literacy in the Electronic Culture” to find out more about how EdTech is being used to make educators’ lives easier. An avid user of Delicious and Pinterest for personal use, Prof. Christensen mentioned it would be helpful to have something that could span those platforms and bring them in to the class. “I like the visual option, but sometimes a pretty picture doesn’t suffice or isn’t the point/possible for an online article.” Here are three of the most popular EdTech solutions that connect with current platforms and are changing the way that teachers teach:

 

Image via: grovo.com

Image via: grovo.com

 

5. Google Classroom

For: K-12, University

User Base: Millions of students and teachers (rapidly growing)

Hacks: Never have to rely on physical paper in your classroom ever again

Google Classroom is part of the Google Applications for Education suite of apps and it integrates beautifully with several Google apps such as Docs and Sheets. It can be used by educators to centralize their materials and create assignments, distribute them to their learners online, and receive feedback all within a matter of seconds.

 

Image via: classthink.com

Image via: classthink.com

 

The ingenious part about Google Classroom is that educators and learners are already so familiar with the layout and design. Adding students, classes, and related content to the platform only takes a few clicks.

 

Image via: https://www.punchkick.com

Image via: https://www.punchkick.com

 

This is a relatively new EdTech solution that is seeing major adoption rates amongst educators because of its easy, instant, paperless approach to managing classroom activities. Students appreciate that they don’t have to install or configure any new clunky apps as they use many of the Google Applications for Education already.

 

Image via: mrlopez.me

Image via: mrlopez.me

 

6. Canvas

For: K-12, University

User Base: Over 1,200 US School’s

Hacks: Cuts grading time in half with SpeedGrader

When the people at Canvas set out to “change the world” they asked themselves six questions about current EdTech in the classrooms: Is it easy to use? Does it do what teachers and students need it to do? Does it have easy, mobile access? Is it dependable? Does it makes teachers’ jobs easier? Does it save time?

 

Image via: elms.umd.edu

Image via: elms.umd.edu

 

Canvas is the “yes” answer. Instead of packing feature after feature into Canvas, the focus is on ease of use and adoption rates in the classroom. They just released a new simplistic layout that lets teachers take advantage of tools like the SpeedGrader and the Canvas Network: a system of free, online classes taught by qualified educators. Canvas can even be integrated with Facebook, Twitter, and Google Docs. Most importantly, they just updated their mobile version; Canvas is now available on tablets and smart phones!

 

Image via: lore.com

Image via: lore.com

 

7. Lore

For: K-12, University

User Base: Thousands of courses at over 600 US Universities

Hacks: Since Lore doesn’t require adoption by the entire school individual teachers are in complete control of its use.

Lore is a departure from the previously mentioned products; it treats each classroom as a unique community with special needs, demands, and time constraints. Originally started by students from Princeton, it allows users within the class to collaborate, share content, and communicate with their professors. Setting up a class takes less than three minutes.

 

Image via: lore.com

Image via: lore.com

 

Instead of focusing on managing several courses at once, Lore focuses on a single course and features the must-have tools for students such as a calendar, syllabus reader, and classroom messenger. Educators can easily create a course from scratch or create a course using information from a previous class. It doesn’t need to be adopted by the entire school to function, which is an option individual educators appreciate. Did we mention that it can be integrated with Blackboard? Well, it can.

EdTech For Students

Image via: www.news1130.come

Image via: www.news1130.come

 

After all of this awesome EdTech help for schools and teachers to make their jobs easier, you might be wondering about the students. Don’t worry, we didn’t forget about you!

 

Image via: myedu.com

Image via: myedu.com

 

8. MyEdu

For: K-12, University

User Base: 1 million students | 800+ schools

Hacks: Students create multiple class schedules in case they don’t get the preferred selection.

MyEdu is your key to success in college. Plan your classes, generate an alternate schedule for registration, and quickly calculate your possible GPA.  Whatever you need, there is a suite of incredible tools for you to take control of your university experience.

 

Image via: myedu.com

Image via: myedu.com

 

Get help finding internships and keep on top of your degree timeline to better track your progress through school. The host of helpful apps is available via mobile so that busy students can always stay up to date with what’s coming up next.

Bookmark Roundup

EdTech For Schools

Blackboard

Moodle

Sakai

Brightspace

EdTech For Teachers

Google Classroom

Canvas

Lore

EdTech For Students

MyEdu

Comments

comments

    ADD YOUR COMMENT