What latest gadgets and gizmos are going to change your classroom in 2013? It’s hard to know exactly what will catch on and what won’t, but the following list showcases some of the emerging new technologies, software, and platforms available. With their innovation and practicality, many of these are poised to enter the classroom and change the way students and teachers learn permanently.
Remember the days of doodling on the side of your spiral notebook while you tried to take copious notes from your boring biology teacher? Would you be more motivated if you knew that your notes would not only give you an edge on the exam, but could also earn you a bit of cash? Flashnotes allows students to upload their lecture notes and sell them to other students who need more help or resources. The rating system allows the best note takers to get more business and the general pool of knowledge expands as students continue to share their work with one another.
The new startup is using a Facebook type platform- riding the wave of what works- and tailoring it for education. This social network allows professors and students to communicate, follow one another, and discuss class work and lectures. In addition to the social aspect, it allows for document uploads, calendar sharing, and a grade book option. So why is this better than Facebook? Simply put, social networks aren’t always the best place to develop academic networks. Students can follow their professors and interact with them without worrying about that compromising photo from a crazy weekend party.
3. Study Blue
Imagine your smartphone as your primary source for study materials. This company has created an app that allows students to organize their coursework, store notes and flashcards, and share their materials with other students. Study Blue’s main attraction is that it is mobile. Whether standing in line for coffee, riding the train, or waiting at the dentist, a student can easily access their class work and prepare for an exam. The social aspect also helps students find other people studying similar subjects, capitalizing on a different set of notes and study guides.
4. LEAP Motion
Imagine the ability to sign your name on a digital document using only your finger and the air. That is technology behind LEAP Motion, a company intent on giving people a more natural way to interact with the computer. LEAP has developed a piece of hardware that allows anyone to write, draw, zoom, play, and interact with their computer screen using a finger, fingers, or entire hand. By moving your hand over the device, the mouse follows your movements. This is a huge improvement from the days of the stylus and pad- even with the fine motor control- it was difficult to make drawings look authentic. LEAP is set to do that.
Papertab won’t be ready to use in 2013, but I think it’s interesting enough to include it in this list. Paper, afterall, is HUGE part of the school life.
Despite the rising popularity of tablets, Google’s Chromebook may snatch the competition in the lower grade school classrooms. The laptops have a few distinct advantages over the apple iPad:
- They are less expensive
- One-button-push easy setup
- Easy to control settings and restrictions
- Offers the traditional keyboard for fast typing and note taking
- Hardware fixes are easier and less costly
Teachers are continually fighting against the ever-growing list of distractions that a smart phone offers to bored or shy students in the back of the room. But Celly is a text-messaging network that allows anyone to create a network anywhere- at a rally, event, in the classroom, or on a field trip using smartphones. Teachers that have used this in their classrooms have noted that those who normally never speak up…do. It forces students to write their thoughts clearly and concisely. Rather than fighting the tide against texting, instructors are using it for academic purposes.
While not a technology per se, this teaching model is using technology to change the way instructors teach. Rather than spending the class time lecturing the students, the lectures are delivered to the student’s in video format for them to watch at home (or in study hall). Then, the classroom time is set aside for 1 on 1 help, discussion, and interaction based on the lecture homework. With nearly every student carrying a mobile device or laptop, this model may give students and teachers more time to work on areas of difficulty rather than simple straight lecture. For too long, instructors have seen that precious class time go to waste while a teacher scribbles on a blackboard and has their back to the students.
These screen capture video software programs are making it easy for instructors to give online tutorials. TechSmith offers a host of different products from a free screen capture to professional quality videos. Imagine a tech-ed teacher trying to explain how to download an app. He/she can record narration while capturing the screen shots as he/she demonstrates the action. This feature can also be used for teachers who are correcting a paper or demonstrating a math problem.
Teachers need help and support with their lesson plans just as much as students need help with studying for exams. LessonCast allows teachers to submit a 2-minute lesson plan strategy, idea, or resource using video, documents, Powerpoint, etc. and share it with other instructors. The free-based software is just another way to offer networking opportunities and a general pool of knowledge that globally impacts education in a positive way. Teachers Paying Teachers is a similar network that allows educators to sell their lesson plans to other instructors.
11. Kid Blog
Designed specifically for younger students; Kid Blog provides a safe opportunity for children to start up their own blog connected to the classroom. Teachers can help students design a blog around a science project, a history lesson, or an entire year’s worth of school progress. The students get the benefit of other students and parents commenting on their work- a great motivation for hesitant writers. Kid Blog makes it easy to keep the child and content secure from the dangers of the Internet.
12. Glogster EDU
Gone are the days of laboring over a diorama made from a shoebox or wrestling with markers on a poster board. When it is report time, students can use Glogster to creatively display their research. Glogster allows students to collage pictures, text, video, and custom graphics to create a visually appealing presentation for their latest project. The Glogs are easy to make and share!
13. Donors Choose
Funding websites are popping up all over the Internet. People who are frustrated with the bureaucracy of grant writing decide to strike out on their own and build a project from the ground up. With Donors Choose, you can pitch your idea for your classroom. Teachers create projects they hope to accomplish with their students. Much like Kickstarter, individuals can fund or back any project they choose. Then they share it across social media and if a teacher has created the project pitch well, it gets the attention and money it needs.
14. Live Binders
Those handy three ring binders are now digital. Using the same idea as pinning and bookmarking, the binder allows educators to collect and organize resources for lesson plans. The Live Binder can also work for students who are amassing resources for a big project. You can also browse other binders and share your own.
This new technology company aims at personalizing content for optimal learning. The platform monitors the student’s activity and uses the information to give the student the best personalized resources based on their level of performance. The technology also boasts integration among different disciplines creating a more comprehensive set of resources that interact with one another. Knewton grows more intuitive the more the student uses the software. It can follow a student through their entire education career.