7 of the Best EdTech Tools of 2018

Feb 4, 2019 by

For thousands of years, humans communicated, created, and built according to the same basic patterns. Today all that is changing, in both positive ways and in negative ways.

New technologies, led by the Internet, are shaping ways that we think and do things. We now perform many of our daily tasks on the computer – something unheard of a mere 30 years ago.  Everything from research (looking for that recipe for Indian chutney) to shopping (buying the products for said chutney), from enrichment (news, concerts and movies) to enjoyment (online games like Pokemon or Springbok mobile casino games).    

This is a huge change.  And these changes are both obvious and subtle, deliberate and unintentional. In some ways they’re advantageous and in other ways, they are detrimental.

No one can say for certain how these advancements influence children’s ability to think but it’s clear that today, kids process information differently than they did in years gone by. Educators are developing an entire new field, “EdTech” to meet the changing needs.

Technology companies and suppliers are developing a line of new tools for EdTech. Some of the most useful and important EdTech Tools include

Google Drive

Google Drive is at the heart of the Google Suite, a line of tools that anyone with a Google address can use for free. Many of these tools are perfect for the classroom because they’re collaborative, foster imagination, save time and support students.

Kids of all ages are excited to use the Google suite in the classroom because it’s a way of learning that fits their technology know-how and interests. The tools are simple and easy to use. Tools include documents, spreadsheets, forms, presentations, picture, and video editing tools and more.

The tools can be shared and used collaboratively. The person who creates the tool can share the document or other tool with as many people as needed. The document can also be made completely public. The share options allow others to view the document, to add comments to the document (which everyone can then see) or to freely edit the document.

Teachers can check students’ work in real time and send the work back for the student to correct and revise. Students can easily access their work anywhere and anytime that there’s Internet connectivity, whether on a computer or a mobile device.

Wizer

Wizer is an online, interactive worksheet with images, videos, alternative types of questions and other types of media that allows students to study material through dynamic, multi-media assignments. Teachers love to create the worksheets because there are so many different types of strategies that can be inserted to give students a fun and interactive way to review material. 

Once the student completes the Wizer worksheet s/he can send it to the teacher online so the teacher can comment, request revisions and give feedback in real time.   

The blended worksheets can be completed by a group of students who work collaboratively. Every group member can view the contributions of the other and comment and edit. Alternatively, students can work on their worksheet asynchronously.

Worksheet assignments take on a whole new meaning as students match games, fill in the blanks, answer open-ended questions, fill in tables, draw images, write text, sort, discuss and reflect.  Wizer suggests that teachers insert HOTS (higher order thinking skills) activities and questions into the worksheet so the assignments include more depth and meaning. 

Lino and Padlet Online Bulletin Boards

Remember the fun of working on bulletin boards in the classroom? Now you can do it online with Lino and Padlet. These two virtual bulletin boards allow the teacher to create space where students can post their thoughts and research.

The teacher can ask a question or provide information using text, images, and videos. Then, students put up “post-it” type notes to respond to the teacher-initiated activities. Posts go up in real time so everyone can see the posts as they go up on the board.

Students respond to the teacher, the teacher can respond to the students and the students can respond to one another. Everyone can add their own texts, photos, and videos to illustrate their posts.  

Lino lets the teacher copy a board so the teacher can use the same board for multiple classes – each board is cleared of students’ posts so a new class can start posting.

Padlet offers a ‘remake’ option which allows teachers to download or copy a padlet that someone else created into their own account. The teacher can then edit that copied Padlet for the new class’s needs.

Quizlet Game

Quizlet allows teachers to assess their students’ learning by creating fun and engaging games. The teacher creates a quiz in the form of a matching game by inputting data to be reviewed/assessed. Then the students work on the quiz, answering questions based on the material that they learned. 

Foreign language teachers might want to use image cards that have the students match the image to a written word. Teachers can up the challenge by telling the students that they must complete the quiz within a certain time limit. There’s also a variation of the game, Quizlet Live, which allows multiple students to compete by playing collaboratively in real time.

Some teachers use the Quizlet tool to reinforce information previously taught by having students create Quizlets for their peers.

Thinglink

A teacher creates a Thinglink by placing numbered “points” on an image (for instance, if the class is studying “China,” the background image may be something Chinese-related.) Each “point” is clickable and leads the student to a URL with information – text, a video, etc – about the subject at hand.

Again, using a class about China as an example, Point 1 might lead the student to a Wikipedia article about the Great Revolution, Point 2 might take the student to a video about Chinese dance, Point 3 could lead to an online article about Chinese geography, etc.

The goal is to provide the students with multiple activities via the one Thinglink URL. Then the students can work through the Points during class or as homework to progress through different stages of the curriculum point after point.

Animoto Recording Tool

Animoto has been around for several years but it’s still a good basic tool that allows teachers to make a video for the students. Some teachers use Animoto to flip a lesson so the students do the work at home based on the assignment that the teacher gives them in the Animoto. Other teachers assign their students to create their own videos that will illustrate the student’s work in presentation-style.

The person who is making the video can add images, videos, text, and some music as well as adding in one of the template themes. Then Animoto does the rest.  

Students can be assigned to engage in research and then create an Animoto video when they present to the class These videos can become the basis of a complete lesson. The teacher can provide assessment criteria to the students so the students understand, before they make their video, on what they will be graded. An Animoto assessment should include how well the student met the criteria for the video’s goals and impact.

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