Our readers’ top 40 ed-tech services for 2013-14

Alert Solutions

Alert Solutions, a completely embedded communication suite within Pearson’s PowerSchool student information system, takes a cutting-edge approach to school communication. Using multiple messaging channels, Alert Solutions tailors communication based on school and parent preferences, using real-time contact information every time a message is sent—eliminating the need to sync or transfer data. “Power Announcement reaches parents via their preferred method of digital communication,” says Jill Ayers, technology director at Manhattan Christian School in Montana.


Biteslide is an engaging platform for presenting school projects. At the heart of Biteslide are “slidebooks,” a creative and fun way to express yourself using text, images, videos, and more. “This program is invaluable to our elementary ICT program,” says Jennifer Simon, technology integration specialist at the American International School in Ho Chi Minh City. “The built-in graphic and image features provide a fun and safe environment for students to create presentations.”

Camtasia Studio (TechSmith)

Camtasia Studio helps users easily create professional-quality videos. You can use Camtasia to record on-screen activity, customize and edit content, add interactive elements, and share your videos with anyone, on nearly any device. “With this product, I can, at the drop of a hat, send a teacher an audio/visual/animated response to a ‘How can I…?’ question,” says Tim Haag, instructional technology coach for Greater Albany Public Schools in Oregon.

Canvas (Instructure)

Canvas is an easy-to-use, open-source learning management system that is used by more than 400 colleges, universities, and K-12 districts. “The Canvas LMS is head and shoulders above the crowd,” says Lisa Frazier, online education director at Great Basin College in Nevada. “Not only is Canvas intuitive for faculty and students to learn and use, but the way Canvas is designed saves instructors hundreds of hours creating multimedia content and grading. Canvas also excels in product support, [and] this has resulted in a 50-percent drop in help desk calls.”

Centricity2 (Schoolwires)

Centricity2 is a website and content management system that helps users connect with key stakeholders, securely communicate with staff via an intranet, and improve public relations. “We use this service for our website, and it affects everything we do. We use the calendar to communicate between buildings and with our students and parents. We use our website to communicate with our community, and it has become a way for district to share important information in a cost-effective way. It has opened up opportunities for our teachers to create lessons in … an online format as well, which is moving us in a more technologically sound direction,” says Krissy Machamer, a media specialist at Maysville Local Schools in Ohio.

Collaborate (Blackboard)

Blackboard Collaborate is an online learning and collaboration platform designed specifically for education. Its web conferencing features include two-way VoIP; multi-point video; built-in phone conferencing; interactive whiteboard, application, and desktop sharing; breakout rooms; mobile collaboration; and session recording. Users can join live sessions from mobile devices, and instant messaging capabilities allow schools to support online office hours. “[We] are able to bring NASA scientists and real-life engineering activities to our virtual students through Blackboard Collaborate. [It] bridges the geographic gap between us and our students in a remarkable way,” says Tara Park, an intermediate teacher for the Pennsylvania Virtual Charter School.

CrashPlan PROe (Code 42 Software)

CrashPlan PROe is enterprise-level software for backing up information from a number of end points on a network. “With the increasing amount of research data produced and stored on faculty and staff laptops and desktops, our team knew end-point backup was a critical need,” said Tim Winningham, IT projects manager for The Ohio State University. “Since we rolled out the product about a year ago, CrashPlan PROe has … reduced [our] time spent installing and managing data backup by 98 percent, enabling us to focus on other important initiatives.”

Digital Passport (Common Sense Media)

Digital Passport consists of free, web-based games and videos to engage third through fifth graders in learning about safe and responsible internet use. Collaborative classroom activities reinforce online lessons, and students earn badges toward a Digital Passport. Teachers also receive reports to demonstrate student success. “The students loved the games and were challenged to think more about the choices they make online,” says Jeff Thornton, eLearning coach for Illinois’ Evansville Vanderburgh School Corp. “The videos, lessons, and game are all high-quality resources that are easy for teachers to use, and they definitely opened conversations about digital citizenship with our students.”

Discovery Education Techbook (Discovery Education)

The Discovery Education Techbook helps teachers transition to using digital resources instead of physical books. The resource includes videos, interactive lessons, educational games, reading passages, and glossaries, as well as professional development for teachers. The Techbook actively engages students to read, write, and think critically, while reaching all learning modalities through the integration of text, audio, video, images, and digital investigations. “I use the Techbook to engage my students in inquiry-based lessons. Since it is self-paced, I can gauge [students’] understanding via the online assessments,” says Wendy Norton, a science teacher in Osceola County, Fla.

Enterasys Network Access Control (Enterasys)

Enterasys Network Access Control (NAC) is a complete, standards-based solution for ensuring proper access to wired and wireless networks. “The University of New Hampshire uses the Enterasys Network Access Control and One Fabric to have a complete, real-time picture of … all devices on the network, and the ability to identify and contact people using the network-connected device,” says IT Network Manager Scott Kitterman. “This product provides security to the BYOD [bring your own device] bonanza.”

eSchool News Staff

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