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Ten educational technologies you should try this year

From code that lets any educator create a MOOC, to online flash cards that help students earn money, these educational technologies could gain steam this year.

It’s always hard to predict what technology will be a game-changer, but here are 10 educational technologies that have sparked our interest in recent months.

From code that lets any educator create a MOOC, to online flash cards that help students earn money, the following educational technologies could gain steam in classrooms this year.

Be sure to leave your suggestions for what we might have missed, or if you’ve tried some of these educational technologies before, let us know in the comments section—we’d love to hear your thoughts!

(Listed in alphabetical order)

1. Banzai

Between calculating the cost of college and the state of our economy, more and more teachers are incorporating financial literacy curriculum into the classroom. Banzai provides content using real-life scenarios—including taxes and auto insurance—for free! Lessons are online and interactive, or they can be printed; lesson preparation and grading are included with the program.

2. Course Builder

MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) have really taken off in the last year. Now, Google is helping teachers complete their MOOC dreams with this new open-source platform that gives individual educators and universities the ability to create MOOCs of their own. Already, colleges like Indiana University and UC San Diego are using Course Builder.

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3. Digital Passport

All educators know that the internet is a necessary tool for learning, but digital safety is still a topic most schools are struggling to teach. Digital Passport, a free learning program from Common Sense Media, and bronze medal winner of the 2012 International Serious Play Awards, provides web-based games and videos for third- to fifth-graders to help them develop skills in personal safety, respecting others online, and how to engage with the community. Lessons are collaborative, and students earn badges toward their Digital Passport.

4. Epic-Ed’s Epic-Schools

Innovation and improvement require learning and sharing with other schools, which is not always easy when you don’t know which schools are similar to your own or have overcome similar challenges. That’s why epic-ed has developed its School/District Profile Locator—a community-driven U.S. map through which you can provide important details regarding your district, and find districts with similar characteristics. Sharing resources and planning as a group is only part of what epic-ed can provide; collaborating with peers from across the nation is at the heart of its mission. With this mapping program, you no longer need to guess at which districts share your situation; you can identify schools by key implementation elements like BYOD/BYOT, tablet devices, classroom implementation, grade-level, implementation, and more.

5. Explain Everything

Okay, okay, so everyone loves the iPad—and now your school is full of them. Now what? How do you teach with the device? Explain Everything is an iPad-friendly screencasting app (think of it as a personal recordable whiteboard) that, in addition to basic editing features (such as capturing user voice and handwriting, annotating images with handwriting, and sharing creations), also lets users crop images, insert live web pages, and add annotation effects such as arrows, laser pointers, and typed text. After you’ve finished recording your presentation, you can reorder your screens and then export your presentation in many ways (eMail, YouTube, Dropbox, or Evernote).

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6. Flashnotes

What I wouldn’t give to have been able to sell the brilliant notes I took during class. Okay, who am I kidding? I would have paid for someone else’s notes … lots of notes. Flashnotes is the top marketplace where students can buy and sell high-quality, course-specific notes, flashcards, and videos made by other students to help study for a quiz.

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7. FreshBrain

One of the best ways to get students interested in a topic is to provide meaningful projects centered around creation with technology. Freshbrain, a technology exploration platform for teens, allows students to do everything from build a Facebook app, to make a YouTube movie or even create a video game. In today’s job market, where creativity and tech-savviness are critical, this platform can give students a step in the right direction.

8. Knewton

This relatively new company aims to personalize content for learning by monitoring students’ activity and using this information to give students the best resources based on their level of performance. Knewton’s technology can cross-integrate among different disciplines, providing a more comprehensive set of resources that interact with each other. Knewton also grows more intuitive the more the student uses the software and can follow a student through his or her entire education career.

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9. Share with 911

School safety has never been more important, and Share with 911 aims to empower school staff and emergency personnel to act and communicate quickly and proactively in a variety of emergency situations through the use of smart phones, tablets, laptops, desktops, or any web-connected device to provide real-time information on emergency situations to first responders and colleagues. Through a very simple interface, any authorized member of a school’s staff can initiate a lockdown. After the lockdown is initiated, every staff member and law enforcement officer in the community is immediately alerted via a text message and/or eMail.

10. Skype in the classroom

At a time when budgets are tight, free is king—and Skype is no fool. Thanks to Skype’s new education platform, teachers can open up their classroom to meet new people, talk to experts, and share idea with someone as close as next door to a school across the world, all for free.

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Meris Stansbury

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