Each year I try to plan out what my professional growth is going to focus on for the year – what is going to be my “Big Thing” to work on, learn about, implement, and perfect? Last year, starting a new role in my school, I focused on tangible pieces of technology that were NOT iPads. My students had years of an iPad class before the course changed tracks and they came in the first day asking if they could “Play iPad games yet?” (makes me shudder!). Last year I was able to focus on programming and robotics with the use of Ozobots, and I was able to focus on increasing student creativity, critical thinking, and collaboration through the use of Osmos. Last year was amazing because my students were able to touch technology that they didn’t have at home – they were able to value tools and not see these items as toys – they were able to explore to learn.
This year I would like to focus some of my energy on finding and utilizing digital EdTech tools. Digging through conference listings, notes, and the holy-grail of ideas- Twitter, I have drawn-up a short list to explore…
The top three on my list are:
- Remind: A communication tool
- ClassFlow: IWB/SMARTNotebook replacement
- DocentEDU: Web augmenting tool
Lets dig in!
Description: This is a communication tool that is web and app based that allows teachers and school admins to create “classes” which anyone can subscribe to receive notifications. Remind works on any mobile app, web access, by email, and by text… that’s right SMS! Remind believes that to best communicate one needs to target families where they are – on their cell phones! Did you know that only 22% of emails are opened, but 98% of texts are read?
My Thoughts: After digging into Remind – I love it! Remind lets you send or schedule text, images, pdf/links, and even voice notes! Using it on a mobile device is slick and managing accounts online is a breeze! Remind is on a mission to Succeed Together, this year they are going to make a big splash!
Description: ClassFlow is a free, collaborative learning tool for the 21st century classroom that streamlines the way teachers discover, create, and deliver interactive learning — and makes it easier than ever to share classroom content with parents. ClassFlow allows teachers to design card decks which are more interactive and engaging than I have ever seen before because the teacher can, either planned or on the fly, send a card to their students for the students to complete on a web-connected device (phone, tablet, laptop, or traditional computer).
Cost: Free (School Admin paid options)
My Thoughts: Using ClassFlow for a few days and designing some content for this year, I have come up with the simple idea that ClassFlow is like a stronger version of SMARTNotebook blended with Kahoot/Socrative. ClassFlow is simple to use and even allows you to connect other web-storage services like Google Drive… and for those SMARTBoard users out there, ClassFlow allows you to import SMARTNotebook files. I also love that ClassFlow has the default option that is completely web-based (with option desktop software available for free)
Description: DocentEDU is a new app (iOS, Android), and browser plugin that allows a teacher to turn any webpage or online document into an engaging, interactive, digital lesson. This tool allows one to compile and augment the web to become their own textbook. DocentEDU is a teacher created product that emerged out of a Startup Weekend EDU in Minnesota. DocentEDU works well stand-alone or with Google Classroom.
Cost: First 5 Docents are Free; 40/yr after that (District pricing available!)
My Thoughts: DocentEDU is a pretty cool tool for anyone that is in a blended, flipped, or online situation. This tool allows you to augment nearly any website or Google Doc (I could not get Google Slides to work well) and embed notes, video content, questions, or any HTML content you desire. I would recommend that anyone interested in DocentEDU check out the free trial of 5 docents and explore what they can do!
So there are my top 3 Digital #edTech tools you have to try this year! Go explore them and let me know what you think in the comments below or on Twitter (just tag me @000Dave).