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Ten new ed-tech products for June 2014
Lingua.ly’s free WebApp turns websites, eMail messages, and Twitter feeds into an educational experience. Users sign up with an eMail, Google, or Facebook account, then choose the language they want to learn. As users read articles and messages online, they can double-click on words to have them read aloud, defined, and added to their “collection.”
The service, which is available for English, French, Spanish, Arabic, or Hebrew, also includes practice exercises and games designed to help reinforce the words in your collection. An Android app allows users to sync their collection with an Android-based device, and Lingua.ly is working on an iOS app as well.
Another ed-tech startup, TechSpaghetti, has launched an online curriculum called the Young Innovator’s Toolkit. It’s a series of lessons for children ages 6-12 that develop creative and higher-order thinking skills through fun digital media activities, such as creating films and dramatic soundtracks.
The curriculum “scaffolds children through the creative processes, technical skills, and learning involved with making a showpiece,” TechSpaghetti says. The lessons available in August are for Macs and iPads only; browser-based classroom lessons for other platforms will be available next year.
To help support the launch of its product, TechSpaghetti has created an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign that lets contributors pre-order its lessons at discounted prices. The Indiegogo campaign will run until the July 22, with proceeds helping to fund the development of TechSpaghetti’s online platform.
LearnZillion has become known for its free library of videos showing exemplary Common Core teaching practices, as well as grade-specific videos demonstrating key concepts for students. Now, the company is offering a premium version of its service as well: For a per-building fee, schools and districts can buy more complete curricular resources for students in grades 2-12.
The premium version includes interactive math lessons and activities that can help teachers differentiate instruction; a close reading program with weekly “anchor texts” that balance literary and informational readings; and a writing program, called Write Along, that provides daily and weekly writing tasks for students.
LearnZillion Premium also includes high-quality professional development content and a digital collaboration platform, the company says.
Other new ed-tech products
A startup company called eCarrot has hit upon a creative way to control the amount of screen time children spend playing games and texting on their mobile devices: Its software lets students earn more screen time by answering a series of math questions first.
“We wanted to empower kids to take a more balanced approach [to using technology], based on the level of accessibility that a parent or teacher decides,” said CEO Patrick Grimes.
Most other parental control options on the market today are “very one-sided,” he said, taking away a child’s access or privileges. And even if parents use a wireless carrier to block their child’s access, the child could still use his or her school’s Wi-Fi network to connect. With eCarrot, “we’ve created an opportunity for the child to earn his or her [screen] time,” while practicing math skills and increasing computation speed at the same time.
An app for Android devices will appear in the Google Play store later this month, and the company is piloting a school-based version, called EduLock, in classrooms this fall. To participate in the pilot, send an eMail message to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wasp Barcode Technologies, a provider of business productivity solutions, has announced new asset tracking systems for schools and universities: MobileAsset v7, designed to track IT equipment, and MobileAsset.EDU, designed to track how grant funds are spent.
These new solutions are Android and iPhone/iPad compatible, offer easy audit and report-pulling options, and already have saved numerous schools thousands of dollars, the company says.
For example, Miami Public Schools in Oklahoma now manages all its IT equipment—valued at more than $1.6 million—from one central database using MobileAsset v7. Implementing an asset tracking solution has reduced the district’s audit time by a staggering 93 percent, the company says.