Here are 50 news items from the ISTE exhibit hall—delivered in just 100 sentences
This year’s conference from the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) was the biggest yet, with nearly 20,000 people convening in Atlanta June 28 to July 1 to learn about the latest ed-tech trends and developments.
In the ISTE exhibit hall, there were 37 rows of companies demonstrating their ed-tech products. Here’s a roundup of news that stood out from ISTE 2014 exhibitors.
(1) CompassLearning has completely revamped its product line to focus on what its customers say are their biggest pain points: blended learning, intervention and credit recovery, and personalized learning.
At ISTE, the company announced three new products to address these needs: Pathblazer, a reading and math intervention program that helps quickly identify struggling learners in grades 3-8 and puts them on a path to success; Hybridge, a blended learning product that offers individual pacing for elementary and middle school students; and Gradbound, a credit recovery system for high school students.
(2) DreamBox Learning has added Spanish language support to its adaptive math software for students in grades K-8, addressing a critical need for students who are learning English as a second language.
This fall, all DreamBox Learning content will be available with Spanish voice-overs, said CEO Jessie Woolley-Wilson.
(3) Earlier this year, Filament Games previewed a suite of digital games for teaching life-science topics to middle schoolers, and now these games are available for purchase.
Called PLEx, the life science suite includes four game-based curriculum units and two bonus games, along with comprehensive teacher guides for using them in the classroom; an example is “Cell Command,” which has students shrink down to microscopic size and captain their own “cell ship” in the human body.
(4) Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has released a new app that aims to simplify teaching with iPads and Google Chromebooks.
Called HMH Player, the app lets teachers customize lessons with drag-and-drop functionality, integrating content such as YouTube videos or online news articles and sharing them with colleagues or students; allows for data analysis by student, grade level, class, or standard; and enables teachers to send directions, notes, or immediate feedback to the whole class or to individual students, as well as set up virtual study groups.
(5) Learning.com announced Curriculum Foundry, a repository of more than 30,000 K-12 digital resources vetted by classroom educators—and districts can add their own content, too.
Teachers can search for resources by standard, grade level, item type, and subject area, and they can build customized lessons and assign items to students using a single sign-on, as a way to help personalize instruction for each child; a beta version of the service will be available in January, and school districts can ask to pilot the service here.
(6) Learning Upgrade is giving every school in the nation 20 free online licenses of its Common Core-aligned lessons that help struggling students in grades K-8 succeed in reading and math using music, videos, and online gaming.
The company’s goal is to “move the needle” for struggling students—and after just one year of using its courseware, average scores on California’s state test rose from 853 to 905 at Perry Elementary School in San Diego, said CEO Vinod Lobo.
(Next page: 11 more instructional products from ISTE 2014)
(7) LearnZillion is known for its free video library of Common Core tutorials, but at ISTE the company introduced a premium version featuring customizable, high-quality lesson plans developed by exemplary teachers and targeting math and ELA for grades 2-12. The premium content will be available in August for a per-building fee.
(8) Mimio introduced an interactive LED display with six touch points, the MimioDisplay, available in four sizes ranging from 55 inches to 84 inches diagonally.
In addition, Mimio is coming out with a new version of its MimioStudio teaching software this fall that will include an integrated web browser, so teachers and students can find and annotate web content directly within a lesson, without having to switch applications.
(9) myON is expanding its personalized digital literacy platform to include tools that support close reading. The myON platform encompasses more than 7,000 digital books with embedded assessments, and now it features capabilities such as highlighting and note-taking as well.
This content includes the Pearson System of Courses, all-digital math and ELA courseware with built-in games, simulations, activities, and assessments for real-time learning feedback; iLit, a tablet-based reading intervention program for students in grades 4-10; and Pearson’s Online Learning Exchange, a searchable K-12 digital library of teaching resources.
(11) Promethean is adding assessment and data analytics tools to its ClassFlow software, a cloud-based platform that facilitates teaching and learning with technology.
The current platform is free for teachers, and Promethean will charge schools for the enterprise version it plans to release this fall—but the company is looking for school districts to pilot this enterprise version at no cost.
(12) SMART Technologies introduced the SMART Board 6065, a 65-inch, ultra HD interactive flat panel display with a low-friction surface that supports four touch points, so two students can collaborate at once with their fingers or a pen.
As with all SMART interactive displays, the SMART Board 6065 comes with SMART Notebook software and access to the SMART Exchange website, where educators can connect, share, and download more than 60,000 digital resources; the board sells for around $4,500.
(13) Tales2Go cited research suggesting that linguistically rich first graders know four times as many words as their peers from lower socio-economic groups—and this gap persists throughout their education if it’s not closed early on.
Listening to audio books can help close this gap, Tales2Go says, and the company offers audio streaming of more than 4,000 titles to any device—including unlimited, simultaneous access to the full catalog of titles from pre-kindergarten through eighth grade—for just $1,900 per building, per year.
(14) TCI is launching a K-5 science product, called “Bring Science Alive,” built from the ground up on the Next Generation Science Standards and available beginning this fall.
The curriculum is HTML5-based, so it will work on any student device—and TCI has embedded “just in time” professional development within the materials, including step-by-step tutorials for conducting in-class investigations, to help teachers use them in their classrooms.
(15) Waterford Early Learning discussed how its reading, math, and science software for early elementary students is now available in the cloud and accessible from any internet-connected device, including iPads and Chromebooks.
All of Waterford’s content has been converted into HTML5, so it can be used on iPads—and a new feature called Classroom Advantage lets teachers search by grade level, standard, or skill to find activities that meet those needs.
(16) WriteToLearn, a Pearson company, showed the next generation of its online writing software, which will be available this fall.
The new version will have a “card”-based interface that should seem familiar to students from popular commercial applications, and WriteToLearn has added more than 80 new college and career-ready writing prompts and activities.
(17) zSpace is coming out with new content for its immersive virtual 3D desktop environment this fall, including a Newtonian “sandbox” for learning about physics.
Using an Activity Builder, teachers will be able to set up a scene with various ramps and obstacles, then assign a goal to students—such as “move the ball from X to Y”—and as students complete the activity, the system will record their progress.
(Next page: New professional development services; solutions for managing tablets)
(18) Atomic Learning has added standards-based searching to its website, allowing educators to search for online training videos by ISTE NETS standards and other frameworks.
The company has added assessments to some of its tech skills training videos, too, so educators and students can demonstrate what they know after learning how to use popular software programs such as Microsoft Word.
Available at no cost to DEN members, the Discovery Educator Network Summer School will spotlight new tools and techniques that educators can use to create engaging digital learning environments.
(20) Insight Education, which offers ed-tech consulting services ranging from planning and procurement to implementation, training, and support, has launched an online portal with case studies and best practices for using technology to enhance education. Called Insight ON: Education, this resource is available to schools free of charge.
(21) School Improvement Network is replacing its PD360 product with a new service, called Edivation, that uses the Amazon model to deliver more personalized professional development.
Launching July 15, Edivation will serve up targeted video content recommended by a teacher’s profile and history of searches, along with videos suggested by administrators; the new service is completely cloud-based and will work on any device with a web browser.
(22) AirWatch announced enhancements to its Teacher Tools application that gives teachers classroom-level control of student tablets, such as the ability to freeze students’ screens, lock them into certain applications, or reset their passwords without involving the IT department.
New features for Teacher Tools include easier student registration, the option to create and dismiss classes, and enhanced communication between students and teachers during instruction, AirWatch said.
(23) Netop showed a new “classroom workflow management app” for the iPad, called Vision ME, which combines teaching tools with mobile device management capabilities “to solve the challenge of teaching in an iPad classroom,” the company said.
Vision ME includes tools for getting students to the right place during lessons, presenting content in groups or one-on-one, sharing student content with the entire class, keeping students focused on the task at hand, transferring files in a paperless classroom, and communicating with students as they become more mobile; the teacher and student versions of the app are free, while the administrative center that ties these together will cost $7.50 per user, per year.
(24) NetSupport has updated its Student app for Android devices to give NetSupport School customers more functionality in classrooms using Android tablets.
The upgrade includes a Question and Answer module that facilitates student and peer assessment, enabling teachers to use different questioning styles to gauge students’ understanding at any point during a lesson; and File Transfer, a time-saving tool that allows teachers to transfer files from their desktop to selected student tablets or multiple devices instantly.
(25) Stoneware showed new updates to its LanSchool classroom management software, featuring Chromebook support and a brand-new Assessment Mode.
Using the Assessment Mode, educators can lock down student devices during online testing—and an audit log feature will track and record the state of devices in testing mode for accountability purposes.
(26) Through a partnership with Samsung, TabPilot is selling the new Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 education-focused tablet with its cloud-based management system for Android tablets installed—and the company will be offering a “white glove” service for the Galaxy Tab 4 as well, through which schools can pay a nominal fee to have TabPilot set up the devices before shipping.
TabPilot lets teachers monitor or freeze students’ Android tablet screens; manage and distribute apps, web links, and other content; and lock down the devices so students see only teacher-selected content—and its management console is ideal for managing Android tablets in a group setting, because teachers can wipe the settings clean or provision the devices for a new class of students with just a few clicks.
(Next page: New assessment and online-learning products shown at ISTE) Assessment
(27) ACT Aspire is a new company formed as a joint venture between ACT and Pearson. Its College and Career Readiness System includes summative, formative, and interim assessments across five subject areas for grades 3-12, aligned with both ACT’s College Readiness Standards and the Common Core.
(28) Belkin showed a new line of wired keyboards with a built-in stand for holding a tablet computer, designed for use in Common Core testing with tablets.
Ranging in price from $39 for a five-pin version for use with Samsung tablets to $79 for an iPad Lightning version, the new keyboards feature non-priable keys and a cable management track built into the bottom, and they “nest” for easy stacking and storage when testing is done.
(29) Along the same lines, Griffin Technology introduced a Digital Testing Kit, containing peripherals for using iPads during online testing.
The Digital Testing Kit includes a wired 30-pin or Lightning keyboard for iOS devices; volume-limiting headphones for private listening capability; and Griffin’s military-tested rugged case, Survivor for iPad.
(30) Mac to School said all of its refurbished MacBooks meet the standards for taking Common Core assessments—and the devices offer a cost-effective way to get technology into the hands of students as schools prepare for the exams.
For instance, California’s Academy of Arts and Sciences recently saved $245,000 by working with Mac to School rather than buying new technology directly from Apple, the company said.
(31) Naiku has updated its cloud-based assessment platform that enables schools to track students’ proficiency toward state and Common Core standards. The latest version enhances support for standards-based grading, allowing users to transport students’ proficiency by standard directly to any gradebook that supports this approach.
(32) Scantron launched a product called Scantron Assessment Analytics at ISTE; it includes a range of interactive dashboards for visualizing longitudinal assessment data from multiple sources.
Scantron also unveiled a Next Generation Science Item Bank to help schools measure student proficiency toward the Next Generation Science Standards; the item bank targets life, physical, and earth sciences for grades K-8.
(33) Next month, Edgenuity will begin offering a new intervention service—called MyPath—to help middle and high school students get back on track with their learning.
What’s more, Edgenuity is planning to roll out a brand-new online course in January that teaches students how to be good digital citizens—and how to learn more effectively in an online environment.
(34) Edmentum announced several enhancements to its products and services at ISTE, including a streamlined user experience that enables students to manage their assignments and view their progress more easily within the company’s Plato Courseware and its EdOptions Academy, a virtual-school solution.
These two products also include new high school math and ELA courses that are built to the Common Core standards and are optimized for mobile devices, Edmentum said.
(35) Odysseyware has a major launch of new online content coming July 19, including middle school exploration courses for career and technical education, a library of more than 20 virtual labs for science classes, and more “Investigations” that help students answer the question, “Why do I need to know this?”
With its new launch coming later this month, all Odysseyware content will be HTML5-based, so the content can be used on iPads and any other mobile device—and the company also has created a “blended learning library” for schools to use its content in conjunction with traditional classroom instruction through a blended approach.
(Next page: New school and student management solutions; network infrastructure; and 21st century skills)
School and student management
(36) Alma is a modern, cloud-based school management system that aims to fix what it calls the “broken” state of school software use.
Intended to save time, not consume it, this new system includes school, student record, and classroom management tools that can help educators move to proficiency-based grading and tie curriculum to instruction, Alma said; many of the system’s features are available free of charge, with add-ons for a fee.
(37) With privacy near the top of school leaders’ minds, Skyward has issued a set of data privacy guidelines for schools. Available from Skyward’s website free of charge, the guidelines offer best practices for safeguarding sensitive information as school leaders store, share, and analyze student data.
(38) SunGard K-12 Education described recent enhancements to its eSchoolPLUS school management software, such as support for standards-based grading, prorated student fees, and the ability to find students quickly in the event of an emergency.
SunGard also now offers a series of webinars to help customers “tap the untapped abilities” within its software, said SunGard’s Lori Burke; these free, 30-minute sessions target student information every Tuesday and school business and finance every other Thursday.
(39) Extreme Networks discussed its Purview software, which collects, analyzes, and reports on application data across a school or district network—giving administrators insight into how applications are being used.
Savvy school leaders can use this information to improve the experience for their students and teachers, said Jonathan Kidwell, director of education sales; for instance, you could track which applications your highest performing students and teachers are using, to replicate this use across your school or district.
(40) Xirrus has been offering wireless access points based on the new gigabit Wi-Fi standard, 802.11ac, for several months—but at ISTE, the company announced that its 802.11ac arrays are shipping as well, at the same price as the older 802.11n arrays.
All Xirrus access points and arrays are modular products that can be upgraded easily, by pulling out the old radio module and snapping in a new one, Xirrus said—allowing schools to future-proof their investment in wireless technology.
21st century skills
(41) Atomic Learning has introduced new “soft skills” training for students. These are online videos that teach career readiness skills such as time management, conflict resolution, and effective listening—skills that go beyond the traditional curriculum.
(42) Certiport is coming out with a new digital literacy certification program for students in grades 3-5 this fall, called IC3 Spark; it will be similar to the company’s flagship IC3 certification program, which meshes with the ISTE technology literacy standards for students, except that it will be geared toward younger children.
Certiport’s digital literacy standards are available online for free, and the company charges a licensing fee for students to take an exam certifying them as digitally literate.
(Next page: Eight more innovative products shown at ISTE)
Other innovative products
(43) Black Box has expanded its storage and charging systems for mobile devices with a “pay as you grow” stackable locker system, allowing schools to buy what they need today but giving them the flexibility to stack additional lockers as they add more devices.
These configurable lockers for laptops, tablets, iPads, and Chromebooks can accommodate standard, 19-inch rack IT equipment, in addition to all sizes of tablets and other mobile devices.
(44) Buncee demonstrated its easy-to-use, cloud-based canvas for creating presentations, which includes a filtered search tool within the application so students can safely look for YouTube videos and other media to import into their creations.
The free version includes hundreds of backgrounds, images, and animations that students or teachers can drag and drop into place, size, and rotate; a premium version, available for $60 per year, includes up to 50 student sub-accounts, allowing teachers to share students’ work securely—and it also features audio recording, turning Buncee into a digital storytelling tool.
(45) BuzzMob is updating its parent engagement app for the new school year, adding a web-based dashboard for creating messages and indicating who should receive them; until now, users had to input this information within the app itself, which was time-consuming.
The app is free for parents to download, and educators can pay for a classroom, school, or district license, with a one-time setup fee; parents indicate how they’d like to receive information, and the app sends this information to each parent in his or her preferred format.
(46) Califone previewed a new line of peripheral keyboards with oversized, color-coded keys, perfect for use with young students or those with special needs—and available in either Bluetooth or wired versions. The company also showed new wireless, rechargeable headphones with a 20-foot range.
(47) Ergotron introduced a new adjustable-height desk, called LearnFit, with an easy-to-use adjustment lever so students can stand for part of the school day; the desk is on locking casters so it can be moved to create collaborative workspaces as well, and it ships fully assembled.
Research suggests that, just by standing for part of the day, students can burn more calories and increase their fitness, Ergotron says—and standing also can reduce fidgeting and help students focus on their school work.
(48) Fujitsu showed a $795 alternative to a flatbed scanner that scans books and even 3D objects (like children’s art projects) from overhead, using a rotating head.
Perfect for digitizing the books in a school or district library, the SnapScan SV600 includes software that adjusts the scan for the curvature of a book’s spine; recognizes when a page has been turned, scanning the new pages automatically; and converts the images into a single-page-view PDF.
(49) Kensington showed a number of protective cases for tablets, including the SafeGrip line, featuring a hinged handle that doubles as a stand; and the BlackBelt 2nd Degree, which includes a rubber band-like handle that keeps the tablet on your hand as you use it.
Kensington is running a special ISTE promotion: If you use the promo code ISTE14TEACHER for orders placed on the company’s website by July 14, you’ll get 25 percent off the cost.
(50) Nervanix has introduced a cutting-edge product, called Nervanix Clarity, that monitors students’ attention levels as they study and guides them to revisit concepts where they lost focus.
Using a simple headset that measures EEG brain waves, Nervanix Clarity measures the attention levels of learners as they study, then uses Bluetooth technology to stream this information to the Nervanix Clarity application; students can use this information to adapt their study habits, and teachers can use it to see where student attention might have lagged, Nervanix said.
Follow Editorial Director Dennis Pierce on Twitter: @eSN_Dennis.