Today’s guest blogger, Jillian Terry, is a former teacher who writes about education-related topics. She is especially interested in how technology is shaping the future of education. You can read more from Jillian at teachingdegree.org.
The recent rise in mobile technology is changing the ways in which we learn and teach. As massive amounts of the world’s information can be accessed by our fingertips, it is becoming ever-more-important for educators and other professionals to provide systematic ways to make this information coherent, cohesive and accessible. This list covers only a few of the ed-tech startups in NYC who are redefining the way in which we access, share and interact with information and educational materials.
The Math Pentagon resource holds hundreds of thousands of questions designed for students working at grade levels 4-12. In addition to having one of the largest collections of math worksheets for the iPad, teachers can use Math Pentagon apps to capture quiz results in real time. By using the Math Pentagon app to gauge classroom understanding in-the-moment, teachers will be better equipped to address students’ learning needs during class time.
Teachers can also write their own worksheets, assign work to students and can interact with their students through the LIVE learning center. Also, Math Pentagon makes the learning experience exciting for students by marking milestones and progress with rewards and points. Annual subscriptions are priced individually or based on the number of students within a class. The subscriptions also come in two tiers: Math!!! and Math Pro!!!
The most notable product released by Easel Learning has been the ShowMe whiteboard technology that was licensed to the Princeton Review for the iPad app, SAT Score Quest. Outside of the SAT Score Quest app, Easel Learning’s software technology serves as a platform for teachers, tutors, parents and peers to share their teaching skills with learners.
According to Easel CEO San Kim, the company’s goal is to create a “FlickR for teachers”, but because the ShowMe experience captures live media such as writing and voice recording, others have described Easel Learning’s innovative platform as a “YouTube for lessons.” To experience the software firsthand, you can visit Easel Learning’s website, ShowMe.com, where a community of teachers and professionals have used ShowMe whiteboard technology to teach others about imaginary numbers, the quantum theory of light, and the ins and outs of term life insurance – just to name a few.
Many education apps that are designed for mobile technology utilize multiple-choice quizzes to track and grade a student’s answers. The Brainscape app, however, encourages learners to strengthen memory by using the flashcard method that promotes active recall. This type of learning is referred to as metacognition, or the act of reflecting upon thinking. Brainscape’s methods stem from pedagogical research that has referenced metacognition as “one of the most effective ways to deepen a memory trace.”
Brainscape functions not only as a learning tool, but as a library as well, working with industry experts to create high-quality learning content for its user-base. The Brainscape library contains pre-prepared flashcard sets for test preparation, language learning and even trivia. Students and teachers can customize flashcards for individual study or to share with others. Pre-prepared cards generally cost less than $10, but there are plenty of free card decks to test out before you buy.
4. E-line Media
E-Line Media produces game-based educational tools that provide engaging, interactive learning experiences for middle school to college-aged students. E-Line’s initiatives stretch beyond core curricula to drive positive social change among teens and young adults across the world. Professional development, youth mentorship and social awareness all fuel the strategies behind E-Line’s products.
The start-up has designed and published three games for mass consumption, including Gamestar Mechanic, which was funded by the MacArthur Foundation. Released in partnership with the Institute of Play, the online game has taught the core principles of game design to learners in more than 100 countries. After players publish their original games, they can review, compete and collaborate with peers and mentors to continue refining their skills. Game Mechanic is just one example of how E-Line Media is using 21st Century tools to support and redefine learning environments while tapping into students’ natural passion for play.
Schoology is a cloud-based, collaborative learning platform that combines online learning, classroom management and social networking. Teachers can use Schoology to share material, facilitate discussions, gauge student understanding, post and grade quizzes, maintain schedules and network with other educators. Students can interact with teachers and peers, take quizzes and submit homework assignments. The platform has been described as “Facebook for education,” but it also shares similarities with classroom management systems like Blackboard.
The company recently opened up its API and developer platform to allow third parties to create applications that will extend Schoology’s services. Today, Schoology has its own app center, and by integrating services like the plagiarism checker TurnItIn, the platform is evolving into a collaborative and customizable framework. Such adaptability is one of the key attributes of Schoology’s enterprise, with the power to release apps specifically designed for a school system or, on the other hand, to integrate Schoology into outside systems.
MindSnacks is dedicated to providing fun, bite-sized language lessons in the form of games. The games teach essential vocabulary, reading, writing, listening and conversation in 13 different languages; and there is also an app for SAT vocabulary prep. The idea behind MindSnacks is to make learning “as much fun as possible” by using challenges, rewards and score tracking to make learning as fun (and as addictive) as the best games on the market.
The games use different forms of media – graphics, photos, audio clips and written phrases and words—to engage and reinforce learning. Each language app has six games, and once the course is completed and the game is won, students will have mastered more than 50 levels and 1400 words. Another bonus is that the curriculum is customized based on performance, which can be tracked among different games through a single account.
To learn more about MindSnacks, which we’ve covered before, click here.
To learn more about other edtech companies in New York, click here.