Insight 360 (eInstruction)

Insight 360 is a mobile “formative instruction” system designed to simplify the practice of formative assessment in conjunction with interactive teaching. Insight 360 enables educators to obtain instant feedback on student learning through an easy-to-use suite of mobile devices, software, and instructional material that is interoperable with their existing technology and systems, the company says.

“Our third-grade teacher, Ms. Ingrid Oyen, is using the new Insight 360 system for daily formative assessment in her math class,” said Mark Hupp, director of technology for Salt Creek 48 schools in Illinois. “Beginning the year with CPS (eInstruction’s earlier offering), Ms. Oyen has driven math achievement off the charts. Now, Ms. Oyen has seamlessly moved to eInstruction’s revolutionary Insight 360 system—providing her even easier, more natural access to real-time formative assessment data. The Insight 360 system is so easy, so comfortable, and so powerful that Ms. Oyen and I believe it to be the holy grail of response products. The ability to tag almost any file format—including SMART Notebook [content]—means that it is not only platform agnostic, but also software agnostic. Now, Ms. Oyen can use all of her old digital content with her clickers—a huge plus!”

Jing (TechSmith)

Jing is a simple and free software program that lets users capture an image or screen shot of what’s on their computer, as well as record up to five minutes of on-screen video. Two other products from TechSmith, Snagit and Camtasia, are useful for editing screencasts and sharing video and also received several nominations from readers.

“This is an amazing tool, both in its simplicity and in its functionality,” said Jeffrey Getchell, director of learning technologies for Regis University. “Faculty use Jing to illustrate processes for students. Rather than an office visit, faculty can record short tutorials and send [them] to students or post into online courses. Administrators use Jing to provide the occasional tutorial for faculty. Rather than spending inordinate amounts of time on the phone, support folks can create a short screen video or capture and send [it] directly by eMail. And when a computer issue crops up, employees can send screen shots of error messages directly to the IT help desk that illustrate the problem better than time spent on the phone. And it’s free. This is what open resources are all about: simple tools providing specific functions that are easy to use and freely accessible.”

Ko’s Journey (Imagine Education)

Ko’s Journey is a 12-hour middle school math game that takes a targeted approach to math instruction in a part-time, six-week program focusing on the critical areas of the Common Core standards.

“We are using this extensively in multiple pilot schools within the Los Angeles Unified School District,” said Scott Spector, career and technical education advisor for the district’s Office of Curriculum and Instruction. “We have seen dramatic test-score improvement with those students using Ko’s Journey in their math classes. … Students have been engaged in the process of learning math. This has not happened at many of the schools currently using Ko’s Journey. It has also helped the teachers with classroom management—students spend more time on task.”

LabQuest (Vernier Software & Technology)

Vernier’s LabQuest 2 is a standalone interface used to collect sensor data with a built-in graphing and analysis application. The large, high-resolution touch screen makes it easy and intuitive to collect, analyze, and share data from experiments, Vernier says, and its wireless connectivity encourages collaboration and personalized learning.

“The strongest feature of the LabQuest unit is that it is simple enough for an elementary student to use for experiments, and the data that it can produce are detailed enough that it also can be used for high school and college inquiries,” said Connie Bachmann, principal of a K-5 STEM magnet school in the Michigan City Area Schools. “Because it is handheld, it is easy to use by individuals or in a small group setting. … Our students have truly gained a better understanding of scientific inquiry as they personally engaged in data collection with the LabQuests.” Another reader called the LabQuest “rugged and affordable, and customer service is top notch.”