The show floor during last week's International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Conference at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia was a veritable who's who of K-12 ed tech's best and brightest. As such, it can be extremely hard to take everything in.
To highlight a few products you may have missed at this year's show, we've compiled the following list. From Google's virtual reality goggles to knowledge-mapping tech, these are 9 tools you'll want to keep an eye on.
Don't let the simplicity of its design fool you. Cardboard, Google's virtual reality viewer, has the potential to be a powerful educational tool. Every teacher would like to to take students to see things like a museum's dinosaur exhibit or the Ford Theatre, where President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, but for most, the constraints of geography, budgets, or time stand in the way. With a smartphone and some cardboard folded into viewing goggles, however, Google has taken virtual field trips to the next level. And even if a school has easy access to these kinds of trips, it can also facilitate other immersive experiences, like flying through space.
It's basically like the Magic School Bus, but without the bus.
Dell Professional Learning Certificates
As part of its new Teaching and Learning Academy, computer giant Dell is offering a Professional Learning certification program with a catalog of virtual courses covering the basics of device use, next-generation assessments, game-based learning, and how to develop personalized and blended curriculum. Also on display at ISTE: the company's full line of devices for the classroom, which include laptops like the Latitude 11 Touch and its own Chromebook, as well as the Android-powered Venue 10 tablet.
Education social network Edmodo announced a new content marketplace, Edmodo Spotlight, that will allow educators to share, review, and curate educational resources. Additionally, educators or districts can use the marketplace to buy and sell original resources created by peers or by third parties. Additionally, the network is expanding its classroom management capabilities with a single sign-on and student information system integration tool dubbed Edmodo Sync. Office 365 and OneDrive integration will also allow educators and students on the platform to access a greater range of tools for creation and collaboration. The company says, however, that its social networking capabilities are still its top priority.
Founded by former archaeologist and middle school teacher Suzi Wilczynski, Dig-It Games focus largely around Mayan culture to teach lessons in social studies and math while promoting creative thinking. One key lesson right off the bat: Different cultures utilize different numerical systems.
The company's Bethesda, MD, headquarters also frequently hosts Open House field trips that allow students to try their hand at creating games, the results of which can be seen in the company's Wheatley Days app.
First In Math
Landing a "Best of Show" award at ISTE, First In Math aims to take math work and provide a fun, impactful learning experience. Used by over 10 million students in the U.S. and boasting over 17 billion problems solved to date, the standards-aligned program utilizes digital gaming to facilitate deep practice among students in grades K-8. In Philadelphia, its implementation reportedly saw math proficiency scores rise from 21% in 2003 to 59% in 2011.
You might remember zSpace from our coverage of last year's ISTE. To recap, the company's STEM Lab workstations utilize augmented reality and 3D technology, bringing easy-to-manipulate models out of the screen and in front of students wearing special glasses or clip-on lenses. A variety of applications allow students to do everything from dissecting models of various animals or objects to experimenting with the laws of physics.
This year, zSpace revealed its new all-in-one workstation, created in collaboration with Foxconn Technology Group. The new model doesn't require a separate computer for the monitors and will make the workstations (typically purchased in groups of 12) available at a lower cost to schools.
With its Photo Story iPad app, Shutterfly provides a fun way to engage students in ELA, social studies, math, and science projects by providing the means for them to create a self-published book displaying what they've learned. The company also provides training for teachers, a selection of standards-aligned lesson plans developed by teachers from grades K-12, and additional professional development opportunities aligned to ISTE technology standards. The books can be published in an 8-inch by 8-inch paper format or digitally with 30-second audio clips on each page.
We were first introduced to Ideaphora's knowledge-mapping tool earlier this year at SXSWedu. While it's still most notably integrated into BrainPop's platform, where it's expected to see a few new updates roll out in the coming months, an announcement with more details for a standalone version on Edmodo is expected to come at Edmodocon. The standalone is compatible with YouTube videos and PDFs, with PowerPoint presentation and HTML page compatibility in the works. Ideaphora is also in integration talks with several states that have curated content libraries.
Its data currently shows engagement with the knowledge-mapping platform at around 21 minutes a session, around five times higher than the average engagement with the attached educational video, demonstrating that it enhances the value of that content.
NWEA Skills Navigator
Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) test creator Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) partnered with Knovation on its new Skills Navigator platform. The K-8 assessment platform for math, reading comprehension, vocabulary, and language usage is meant to identify skills students are ready to learn, monitor evidence of learning and progress toward mastering those skills, and make instructional resources abailable to help meet those needs.
Those instructional resources are where Knovation comes in, as the company was selected by NWEA to provide those materials due to its rigorous 127-point certification process. Part of the idea behind making a wide range of supplemental resources available is also that educators will be able to match students with materials of particular interest to them, such as an educational video starring Curious George. The platform also utilizes avatars, themes, and rewards for a gamified approach and allows educators to monitor progress via a dashboard.
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