Friday, December 23, 2016

Top 50 EdTech Innovations for 2016

Listen to the Flipped Learning Remix podcast presenting all 50 innovations. Also available for subscription on iTunes. Flipped Learning Remix Podcast presented by Troy Cockrum (@tcockrum) and Joan Brown (@digiteacher).

This year's innovations may not have debuted in 2016, but they certainly impacted classrooms this year. If you have others to add, please let me know.

  1. Land Lines This is in the “it’s just cool” category but so are many of the Google Chrome Experiments. Users draw on the screen a shape and Google will access the entire database of satellite imagery to find that shape in a land feature. Draw a circle and you might find the top of a volcano. Even better for school, there is the name of the place and a link in Google Maps. Great introduction to landforms for any geography class.
  2. Parent Notification Google Classroom (Guardian Summaries) Google Classroom has swept education but some schools found that without information offered to parents, they felt it was not a viable assignment system. Now with Guardian Summaries, those late assignments don’t get past the parents. Google also gives great instructions how to use email that is not part of the gmail system.
  3. Google Classroom Topics  - Really this is just a filter of all the assignments, notifications, Q&A in the Stream in Classroom, but for students who have final exams, it is a map of the whole year. Teachers also like the ability to sort and find. You can count on Google to upgrade any search function.
  4. Google Classroom open API - Google is an open source platform so when they release the ability for developers to code within their system, magic happens. Now there are numerous online educational accounts that populate rosters and can be assigned directly to Google Classroom. This list of 35 by Kasey Bell is just a beginning.
  5. Quizlet Live - I haven’t seen a more revolutionary quiz game for class in years. Combine competition with collaboration and you’ve got Quizlet Live. Teams of 3 discern which of them has the correct answer on their screen before submitting their timed response. Groupings are all done in the app, the teacher just loads the quiz and away they go.
  6. Breakout Edu - Puzzles keep the brain sharp, cooperative puzzles encourage collaboration but add in physical movement and you’ve got the brilliant Breakout Edu. Based on the popular Escape rooms, Breakout Edu puzzles are easy to make with a kit using various locks and curriculum based clues to unlock them. The digital versions use data validation in Google forms.
  7. Google Timelapse - Take the history slider from within Google Earth and create a video. That’s what the Google Timelapse page gives you. Choose a prominent location on earth like a large city or a glacier. Any teacher discussing human impact on the environment must use this visual to prompt an excellent inquiry lesson. The videos can be embedded or linked in Google Classroom too.
  8. Google Expeditions and VR - With Google Cardboard sets costing as low at $1.99 each, teachers are starting to get out of the classroom with virtual reality trips. With over 200 trips, schools can integrate a tour in nearly every subject.
  9. Google Docs Explore - Google Scholar is gone and many have lamented the loss, but within Docs there is the explore button in the lower right hand corner that offers similar research tools. It’s as though there is a google search directly in the document without the ads. This is better for students.
  10. Google Slides Explore - The same button takes us to perfectly designed templates based on the content of our slides. Machine learning at your fingertips.
  11. Google Docs Templates - Open and at the top, in categories, are the modern templates for everyday use, except scroll down and you’ll find a category for education. Lesson plan, note taking and essay templates will get you started right.
  12. New Google Sites - Slick, easy one button publish. All available for students to demonstrate their knowledge. Responsive design keeps the site looking good on any device.
  13. Images in Forms - Math teachers, Art teachers, and really any teachers can produce assessments with images as the multiple choice options.
  14. Adobe Spark - Free from Adobe, Spark helps you design either a narrated video, web story or social media post. But because it is Adobe, everything looks completely professional. You’ll find education examples at the introduction site.

  1. Certified Educators Everywhere - Google started the trend years ago with the Google Teacher Academy, certifying experts to integrate Google Apps. Now do a quick search and you’ll find you can be certified for a myriad of other edtech applications: Microsoft, Common Sense Media, PBS, Raspberry Pi, BrainPop, Newsela, just to name a few.
  2. Hour of Code - Now with 170 tutorials that are no longer just about 1 hour of learning, but emphasis is on creating year long curriculum in schools. See their Beyond Hour of Code page.
  3. Listenwise - In a world where visuals abound, this is a full curriculum devoted to honing listening skills in the secondary classroom. Built around NPR podcast content, there are lesson plans and assessments to help students continue to focus and use the visuals inside their brain.
  4. #OpenEd - Also known as Open Educational Resources, OER, this movement toward free, accessible and sharable curriculum is growing. The movement peaked in 2016 when President Obama promoted the need for more help from government.
  5. - Worksheets on steroids. Interactive, engaging and graded for you. Every teacher needs this tool in their arsenal.
  6. Kahoot Challenges - The interactive classroom quiz game known as Kahoot really began in late 2014, picked up steam in 2015 and then blew the lid off in 2016. Not only did teachers get incredibly creative by flipping the quiz into an introductory lesson to a topic or using it for information during parents night (thank you Sarah!), but the makers of Kahoot designed some more intriguing ideas for usage as well called Kahoot Challenges.
  7. Hyperdocs - Lisa Highfill, Kelly Hilton, and Sarah Landis took something easy to design, a Google Doc, and built a grand pedagogy around it. Their book, The Hyperdoc Handbook,  explains how you can develop student centered inquiry lessons from something so simple.
  8. Snapchat lenses - Was it a nuisance or a great innovation? Sometimes both. Teachers are nagging students to put away their phones when in reality, students are expressing themselves in new ways in the app. Snapchat lenses and now many other apps using filters and such, can transform a selfie into a work of art. Yes, art teachers are inspired to try it in class. Why not use this as a get to know you or perhaps get to know a literary character?
  9. Easier Parental controls (New routers) - The home to school connection has been increased as parents turn to teachers and ask for help filtering the internet, limiting time and basically helping their kids with school. Google WiFi, Torch Routers, and even Disney have new, very easy to install routers that put all the parental controls on an app on your phone.
  10. Chromebooks overtake iPads and Chromebooks supports Android Apps - Implications are clear. Schools want innexpensive, rugged, and easy to support devices. Chromebooks have found that niche and they are continuing to make an impact.
  11. EdTechTeam Press (or small independent publishers in general) - “I always wanted to write a book.” Stop saying it and go ahead. More independent publishing options are available AND EdTech Team has created one especially for teachers.
  12. Facebook Live - This is on the list because of the popularity of Facebook, not the new technology. When facebook added public streaming, now even your grandma can show off her prized tomato. This means that classrooms should not see it as unusual. Just choose the events wisely.
  13. Skype in the Classroom - Great page devoted to connecting classrooms with other students around the globe and experts. Lesson plans, mystery Skypes, tours and more. Every teacher should plan one event from this page.
  14. Google Forms Quizzes - Efficient, easy to build, and now auto graded! Can’t beat that.
  15. Editions at Play books - These are still experimental. Imagine a book that is not printable. The text moves and changes, the pages aren’t really in sequence and well the story unfolds differently. That’s the magic of html 5. See the future of literature and have a class discussion about the pros and cons.
  16. DataUSA - A place to visualize and compare data sets on industry, education, occupations and places.  This should be a gem for career counselors at a high school. Compare two occupations side by side.
  17. Photos for Class (creative commons) - The nightmare for any teacher is allowing students to search for images and well, they find the ones they shouldn’t. You can avoid that problem by using Photos for Class. Every image is safe, offered with a shareable license AND the citation is provided on every photo that is downloaded.
  18. US News Map (playback history) - Access the Library of Congress microfiche newspapers before 1925. However, display them on a map and scrollable timeline. Example: When the term “dust bowl” was used and where.  
  19. Quick Rubric - Exactly what it sounds like, create a rubric in no time. Why not allow students to create their own?
  20. Smithsonian Learning Lab - See the Smithsonian collection online but guided by a teacher. Yes, teachers and students can create their own collections, quizzes, and allow for discovery. New digital resources being added.
  21. PBS iBooks - The beginnings of free, online textbooks. Let’s hope for many more.
  22. PBS Learning Media - Now integrated in Google classroom, all the lessons that include perfectly edited video content in short usable segments from great series like the American Experience and How we Got to Now. All searchable and filtered for grade and subject.
  23. Playposit New Video Builder - Several video lesson builders have quizzing features but Playposit now has branching logic to remediate or enhance learning AND a discussion forum. That’s taking flipped learning to a whole new level. Way to go!
  24. Formative - Another formative assessment builder but with two features that stand above. First is the ability to upload a pdf or doc and transform it into the online assessment. Second is the ability for students to show their work. Keep an eye on this type of EdTech tool.
  25. Storybird - Inspiring imagery so younger and older students can produce beautiful books. Free forever too.
  26. Canva - If you aren’t a graphic designer, not a problem. Create the graphics you need to look modern and full of pizazz. Students can create free accounts too.
  27. Autocrat 3.0 - This mail-merge Google Docs add-on now handles images and hyperlinks. Email out a different image to each student.
  28. Doctopus and Goobric upgrades - Now integrated beautifully with Google Classroom and the feedback interface is much more efficient. Teachers can crank through those essays leaving written or audio feedback in no time. This is a teacher must have.
  29. YouTube Live - Broadcast your chicks hatching, your classical music concert, an Ignite speech contest; just check the copyright before starting. Talk about authentic audience!
  30. YouTube Red - No more commercials, suggested videos. A bit nicer for classroom use than the typical YouTube. If you have the account, best to use it.
  31. Lab4Physics app - A science lab on your phone. Using the accelerometer, sonometer, and speedometer on the cell phone, conduct lab experiments with BYOD in school.  
  32. Epic pen - Free way to write on anything on your screen. Highlight, annotate, screen capture the works.
  33. Webplot digitizer (sheets Add-ons) - Reverse engineer a graph. Scan or import the image and receive data tables, equations.  Perfect for high school math students. Eric Curts wrote a whole list of helpful math add-ons if this one isn't what you are looking for.
  34. Readworks Digital - Students practice reading comprehension while teachers can see all the data. Company is a non-profit organization.
  35. Action Items in Docs - Give teams “to do” items within a doc. Keeps everyone on schedule.
  36. Amazon Inspire - Storehouse of free teaching resources with the power of Amazon’s database. Could become a wonderful resource however, they are still attempting to get teachers to provide more content.
  37. Sketchnoting - Note taking for the creative mind. We are seeing more and more classrooms embracing something other than Cornell/Powerpoint note taking. This process tends not to be digital, but with pencil and paper. However, sharing via images is huge in social networking crowds and could be the next big thing in class. (bonus we have 51!!)

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