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

eTrition (Harris School Solutions)

eTrition is a browser-based enterprise school nutrition system featuring a centralized database. It offers security and central control of important data and tasks, including patrons, users, setup options, food items, and pricing. “This cafeteria management system has streamlined our processes, from the money collection through the children picking up their trays in the cafeteria. Parents can see account balances online, and it is easy to generate reports and reminders for families’ balances,” says Karen Haas, principal of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis schools.

Futaba (INKids)

Futaba is a classroom iPad app designed to supports all types of learning activities. It comes with a variety of learning sets, including Dolch Sight Vocabulary Words, Subtraction, Multiplication, Telling the Time, Currency, Countries, and Flags. Users can create their own learning sets and can include audio with their questions. “This is a fantastic iPad app for engaging students in learning. The games are modifiable by the teacher to suit the needs of the students. Very well-thought-out product—and fun!” says Anna Adam, campus technologist at Cedar Valley Elementary School in Texas.

Gizmos (ExploreLearning)

Gizmos are interactive, online simulations for math and science education in grades 3-12. They help students develop a deep understanding of challenging concepts through inquiry and exploration. Correlated with the Common Core standards and more than 300 textbooks, Gizmos are ideal for small group work, individual exploration, and whole-class instruction using an LCD projector or interactive whiteboard. “Gizmos allow my students to have virtual ‘hands-on’ interaction with difficult science concepts. Each student can manipulate the variables, record the results, and arrive at their own conclusions,” says Leslie Leduc, retired instructional technology specialist from Manatee County, Fla.

GoClaim (Go Solutions Group)

GoClaim helps schools streamline the Medicaid reimbursement process, deliver better special-education services, and make faster, more informed decisions. “[Our school] uses the GoClaim system to bill Medicaid/special-education students who receive health care services while at school. It is an easy-to-use system that allows the school to be reimbursed for the services provided,” says Carla Armstrong, a registered nurse for Jesup Elementary School in Georgia.

Google Chromebooks

Google Chromebooks look like laptops, but they run on Google’s Chrome operating system and don’t have hard drives. Booting up in just seconds, they’re designed to connect quickly to Google’s internet search engine and online services; Google describes the devices as a simple, scalable, and affordable way to put technology into the hands of more students. “We are implementing Google Chromebooks in our one-to-one programs throughout the district. Chromebooks offer easy and quick deployment, reducing our initial costs to a couple of hours. Teachers and students adapt to them almost instantly and are productive out of the box,” says Phil Biggs, technology teacher on special assignment for the Lake Stevens School District in Washington.

Google+ Hangouts (Google)

This free plug-in enables users to connect and have voice and video conversations across computers, Android, and Apple devices. “I teach online using a learning management system that does not have video conferencing, so I use Hangouts to meet with my online students and share my computer screen while I review the feedback on their written work,” says Joanne Heilman, a contributing faculty member at Walden University. “My students love the visual connection with the instructor and being able to see their paper while they hear my comments. … Adding the synchronous aspect makes them feel more connected to me and to other students when I hold virtual office hours with up to eight students [at a time] using Hangouts.”

Hobsons Retain (Hobsons)

Retain from Hobsons is a student retention solution that ensures students get the most out of their college experience. From introducing students to campus, to accurately mapping a clear path to graduation, to alerting advisors of potential warning signs, Retain allows campus staff to monitor the success of each student throughout his or her college career. “Retain has helped us reach out in various ways, which has [improved our] customer service,” said Dawn Prueter, director of academic services at Baker College Online. “The feedback I have received from students tells me that the product has been successful for us.”

In2Books (ePals)

In2Books is a secure online curriculum that matches third through sixth grade students with carefully screened adult eMentors. Students read books virtually with their eMentors and share ideas about important issues via online letters. Teachers reinforce and extend the learning with in-class book discussions and related instruction in genre and literacy skills. “Through this program, our students have become better, [more] motivated readers and are looking forward to reading their assigned texts, just so they can discuss their reading. In2Books truly deserves this recognition!” says Dana Bolojan, a technology assistant for Virginia’s Loudoun County Public Schools.


InfuseLearning is a platform that lets teachers engage every student on any device and get real-time feedback at the point of instruction. What’s more, this system for empowering “bring your own device” programs enables students to read, listen, and participate in their native language. Students can take part in instruction at the same time from any location via the internet. InfuseLearning is “a great tool for quick check-in assessments with your students,” says Angie Kalthoff, technology integrationist for St. Cloud Area School District in Minnesota. “I like that it has the ability to change languages.”

Insight 360 (eInstruction)

Insight 360 is a digital teaching solution that gives educators mobile desktop control on their Mobi 360 wireless device, or on their iPad with the Insight 360 Teacher app. Teachers can facilitate lessons, give assessments, and access data sent from a variety of student devices, from anywhere in the room. “As we move into our second year of teaching to Common Core State Standards, assessment needs to be viewed as a continuous and interactive process between teacher and student. Insight 360 has met this need, and the Insight 360 Student app for iPad has allowed for a more collaborative learning environment, rather than just focusing on a set curriculum,” says Carmen Trujillo, instructional coach for Albuquerque Public Schools.

eSchool News Staff

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