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March’s 11 buzzworthy edtech tools

The month of March’s hottest, must-know edtech tools—right now.

[Ed. note: Common Sense Education’s Edtech Eleven is chosen by Common Sense Education every month and helps educators find the best edtech tools, learn best practices for teaching with tech, and equip students with the skills they need to use technology safely and responsibly.]

Things move fast in the edtech world, and we hear all the time from teachers how hard it can be to keep up. This is why we’ve created the EdTech Eleven: our monthly list of noteworthy tools generating buzz in the edtech world. While these aren’t recommendations or ratings (you have to check out our Top Picks for that), what you’ll find on the EdTech Eleven is a quick and current list of trending tools you might want to check out.

March 2017 Updates

What left the list? GoNoodle,  Space by Tinybop, TinyTap

What’s new? Adobe Spark, Recap, Smithsonian Earth

Adobe Spark  

Apps that help people create beautiful, web-first designs are on the rise. From Canva to Sway and now Adobe Spark, consumers and educators have lots of options. Spark, however, stands out due to sheer versatility. It combines the functionality of former Adobe apps Slate, Post, and Voice, offering students and teachers lots of options to make visual presentations and stories.


Bitmoji — an app that lets users create their own personalized emoji — is the second most popular free app on the Apple store, and was bought by Snap in 2016. There’s no doubt it’s trending, but why did it make an edtech list? Because like Bitstrips before it, Bitmoji has caught fire with educators who we’ve seen use their Bitmojis to engage students as well as their PLNs.


In edtech right now, there’s nothing more novel — or generating more buzz — than BreakoutEDU. It brings the popular puzzle-room phenomenon to classrooms through purchasable physical kits or a DIY guide to building your own. What has really set them apart thus far, though, is their vibrant community of educators sharing stories and collaborating on new scenarios.

checkology Virtual Classroom

Created by the News Literacy Project — a nonpartisan nonprofit focused on building students’ digital literacy — checkology virtual classroom offers students a blended learning experience that helps them practice skills of separating fact from fiction using real-world stories and examples. We’ve heard some buzz around this tool recently and for good reason: it seems perfectly positioned to help teachers tackle the challenging media circumstances students now face.

Explain Everything

Explain Everything Classic has long been one of the most popular tools in the crowded interactive whiteboard and lesson genre. While we rated Explain Everything Classic highly, we noted the detailed but complex design vis a vis competitors like Educreations. With this brand new revision, titled simply Explain Everything, the app has undergone a total visual overhaul that seems to offer a more elegant, intuitive experience, and adds new features like collaboration on projects.

(Next page: Edtech tools for March 6-11)

Google Earth VR

VR hasn’t quite taken off the way many thought it would, but it might have its first “killer app” in Google Earth VR. While we haven’t gotten our hands on it, those that have seem to be in agreement: it’s an extraordinary, perspective-altering experience that realizes the full potential of the Google Earth platform. It’s a surefire hit for classrooms that can manage to afford the costly HTC Vive platform.


Video rules the web, and, for students, it’s increasingly how they consume and communicate. Recap hopes to capitalize on this, offering a means for students to record video reflections to teacher prompts that help document and assess learning. Teachers can then share these reflections with other students, educators or parents to facilitate dialogue and build connections.


A major innovator and early success (in the latest edtech boom), Remind is still making headlines. Most recently, they’ve added “Activities,” a way for parents to pay teachers and schools for field trips, fundraisers, and more through the apps using their credit cards. It’s a smart way to build revenue while also providing a useful, timesaving service to schools.


In edtech, some tools just click, and Seesaw is one of those tools. They’ve had a meteoric rise over the past year, thanks in large part to filling a real need for teachers: helping students share work and progress with parents. It seems like each month Seesaw adds new functionality that cements their position as the portfolio tool of choice.

Smithsonian Earth

We’ve been long wondering when an educationally-focused streaming video service would take off. As far as earth and life science classrooms are concerned, Smithsonian Earth might be it. For $3.99/month educators get unlimited access to ultra HD documentaries, nature scenes, and series with new videos being added monthly. It seems like the right combination of price and quality (although we can’t speak to breadth) to gain some traction.

Toontastic 3D

The first Toontastic was one of our earliest 5-star rated apps, and garnered wide acclaim and a coveted Google buy-out for the developer, Launchpad Toys. This revised version is the developer’s first release as part of Google. The easy-to-create animation (via touchscreen drawing and photo taking) and whimsical puppet-style storytelling from the original Toontastic remains; however, this version adds a slick new 3D look that gives the app depth in more ways than one.

Did we miss anything? Let us know!

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