50 top ed-tech products, straight from educators


Odysseyware delivers fully online courses and online content for blended learning classrooms, enhanced with tools for note-taking, translation, and other supports. “Odysseyware provides many options for school districts,” said Steve Carney, executive director of career and alternative education services for California’s Madera County Office of Education. “They have a great selection of core academic classes, as well as elective classes. Their products have helped hundreds of our students recover credits, and in many cases [students] have caught up to their class and graduated with a diploma. … Before switching to Odysseyware, we used a competitor’s product. While the product was good, it did not measure up to the built-in security that Odysseyware has to keep students from cheating. Our teachers and staff love the product and have found it very user friendly.”


OnCourse Lesson Planner (OnCourse Systems for Education)

OnCourse Lesson Planner is a time-saving website that facilitates lesson planning and homework posting for teachers. Kelly Salerno, a language arts teacher in Lafayette, N.J., is using the site to keep students and parents up to date with lessons, information, and support materials. “All products and services are first-rate with OnCourse,” she said. “[It’s a] great company with awesome customer support.”


PEAK (Fuel Education)

Billed as a “personalized learning platform,” PEAK is an easy-to-use, open-standards system that gives districts a way to integrate and manage online learning programs from various vendors. “Peak has helped me so much with my school work,” said Mariah Mayhugh, a student at District 49 in Colorado. “It is an amazing service. It isn’t just your typical classroom—you can work at your own pace. I love schooling through Peak, and I would never want to use any other service.”


Pixie (Tech4Learning)

Pixie is creativity software that students can use to share ideas and understanding through a combination of text, original artwork, voice narration, and images. “We rely on this versatile program in grades pre-K through 3 for a variety of projects,” said Ellen Gerkens, technology instructor for the Swain School in Pennsylvania. “Students make class slide shows for reasons such as reviewing topics studied, creating solutions to problems, reflective writing, demonstrating science concepts, and honoring grandparents. We also use it for making greeting cards, stationary, booklets, and comic strips. Pixie is our students’ favorite application.”


PLUS 360 (SunGard K-12 Education)

PLUS 360 brings together student information, assessment and curriculum, special education, and finance and human resources into a single management system. “The comprehensive nature of the application allows [us] to have one source to draw information from, especially state-mandated reporting,” said Vince Julian, enterprise application manager for West Aurora School District 129 in Illinois. “The district has benefitted greatly from the improved data accessibility and accuracy of our ad-hoc reporting. In addition, our communication to parents and students has increased dramatically.”


PowerMyLearning (CFY)

PowerMyLearning is a free, web-based platform that makes thousands of high-quality learning activities easily accessible in one place. “I make differentiated playlists for my students, which steers them to appropriate activities for whatever subject we are studying,” said Regina Hosey, a fifth grade teacher in Fort Cambell, Ky. “I have shared the site with many of my K-5 colleagues. I feel it has revolutionized educational content delivery.”


RobotsLAB BOX (RobotsLAB)

This product allows teachers to demonstrate abstract math and science concepts (such as slope, sine, cosine, and vectors) using four robotic devices—without any prior experience in robotics or computer science. “We use RobotsLAB BOX in our district’s high schools … to solve real-world problems,” said John Shannon, director for career and technical education at North Carolina’s Onslow County Schools. “The RobotsLAB BOX provides students with an opportunity to see the relevance of their math and science in real applications. Students have become more engaged in their learning and have developed a clearer understanding of various topics.”



Schoology is a dynamic, scalable learning management system that is available as a free system for instructors and an enterprise version for school systems. “Schoology has a great, easy to use interface that students and faculty really love,” said John Case, technology coordinator for Ohio Hi-Point Career Center. “Academic content standards are included, and a new analytics tool [helps] teachers in identifying students who are struggling.”


eSchool News Staff

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