Educational technology is changing the way we think about teaching and learning. Teachers want rigorous learning experiences that foster collaboration among students. Creative and effective use of digital tools inspires, engages, and energizes learners. But it’s easy to get lost in the ocean of options and programs, and, in our quest to keep up with the newest, shiniest edtech product, lose focus on the most important thing: the teaching and learning itself. Technology should enhance the learning experience, not eclipse it.

The best digital tools for the classroom spice up the experience and increase student engagement all while keeping things simple, straightforward, and user-friendly. It’s been a banner year for the introduction of new and innovative digital tools and programs that enhance and expand the classroom experience. Here are five of our favorite EdTech programs and tools that are taking the classroom by storm while preserving the core teaching as the star of the show.

Top EdTech Tools To Engage Students and Simplify Teaching

1. Google for Education

Everyone’s heard of Google and Gmail, of course. But not everyone knows that Google has created solutions for K-12 education and for higher education institutions. Google for Education is “an ecology of digital tools from Google designed to host and distribute digital documents, communication, and collaboration through cloud-based technology.” Educators have at their fingertips a variety of Google products that are independently customizable and can be set up with their own domain name. In other words, as with Gmail, educational institutions can customize the Google platform to look like their organization.

Google for Education provides products and digital tools that foster digital literacy in teachers and students. Through these tools and apps, teachers can distribute information and materials, post quizzes and other written evaluation documents, and provide real-time feedback on students’ work—all paperless and easy. Google for Education and Google Suite are designed for easy use with cost-effective Google Chromebooks, America’s #1 device for 1-to-1 use in the classroom. Chromebooks arrive with G Suite already included.

2. Snowflake MultiTeach Community and Lessons Online

If you have a Clear Touch Interactive® panel in your classroom, then you already know how great Snowflake is—and how well it integrates with your favorite online tools and the other classroom solutions that are included in our subscription-free educational software suite. However, what you may not have discovered yet are all the resources available to you through the MultiTeach Community and Lessons Online.

What teacher doesn’t know what it’s like to feel burnt out? To stare down stale, overused lesson plans with no creative energy left to breathe new life into them? Collaborative support and shared ideas among educators are both vital for professional development and helping teachers maintain their momentum, enthusiasm, and creativity. Peer knowledge sharing has been demonstrated to make teachers feel more connected to their colleagues, more effective in the classroom, and less likely to feel burnt out or stuck in a rut.

The Snowflake MultiTeach Community invites you to engage and collaborate with teachers all over the world. As a part of the Snowflake MultiTeach Community, teachers gain access to innovative and fresh lessons created by other teachers as well having the opportunity to share their own. This software enables teachers to create interactive touch screen lessons for the classroom in minutes. Lessons online allows teacher who use Snowflake to develop their own online classroom, post their lessons to the cloud, grade student submissions online, and more.

3. Flipgrid

Teachers and students are flipping for Flipgrid! Flipgrid is one of the leading video discussion platforms, connecting students and teachers in 150 countries at every level from Pre-K to Phd. It incorporates something today’s kids already love doing: making and sharing videos. Flipgrid connects students within their own classroom—and how far beyond is up to you. Learners use the program to collaborate with students in different sections of the same class in their own school, district, or around the globe! They get the benefit of exchanging ideas and both inspiring and getting inspired by others.

To begin using Flipgrid, the teacher simply posts a question or prompt and invites the students to post short video responses. Flipgrid can energize any subject matter. Invite students to share thoughts on the book they’re reading. Challenge them to find and explain the mistake in the math problem you share. Let them walk their classmates through their process of testing a scientific hypothesis. Dare them to let their parents post videos that are relevant to the classroom topic. The possibilities are endless, and students grow from connecting with other students. Educators have complete control over the privacy, security, and shareability of their grids. For help getting started on your FREE Flipgrid account, click here.

4. HyperDocs

What do you get when you combine curious students, innovative teachers, Google Apps for Education, Chromebooks, and the internet? HyperDocs! If you are already using Chromebooks in your classroom, either one-to-one, or a few per class, HyperDocs will rock your teaching world. HyperDocs aims to nurture students who are “creative, collaborative, critical thinkers and communicators.” A HyperDoc is a transformative and interactive Google Doc created by the teacher as an alternative means of sharing and delivering instruction with students. Use a HyperDoc to share videos, links to valuable and pertinent websites, invite student reflection and feedback, etc.

After the Doc is designed by the teacher, students become co-creators in further developing the Doc by sharing their own thoughts and ideas as well as uploading videos they choose, and interacting with other students in small groups. With HyperDocs, teachers become less of an information gatekeeper and more of a facilitator as students participate in driving the learning process. A HyperDoc can be shared with other students beyond your own classroom to provide further opportunities for collaboration. As with Flipgrid, educators have complete control over privacy and security to make the experience safe and appropriate for their students. For more information about HyperDocs, check out their YouTube playlist.

5. Peekapak

We love this program. Peekapak is not about direct teaching of curriculum, but rather about integrating literacy, reading, and writing standards into meaningful and engaging lessons, stories, and digital games that foster social-emotional learning. Peekapak is about nurturing empathy, compassion, and character in early childhood students. And what teacher isn’t trying to do that every day?

Through Peekapak, young children get to know three main characters who live in their own fun-filled, magical world called Peekaville. Peekapak capitalizes on the way children respond to and engage with story in order to engage them with the original stories and adventures of these Peekaville characters as a vehicle to teach the whole child and improve SEL skills. The Peekapak design was conceptualized for classroom use, but is expanding into the homeschool world. Learn more by watching this Peekapak intro video. They offer a free basic starter package as well as a free trial so you can see how much your students will love and benefit from this wonderful program.

This list is obviously only the tip of the EdTech iceberg. It’s a challenge to pick our top 25, much less our top 5. But this list will get you started and inspire you to go out and dig even deeper to find opportunities to incorporate digital learning into your teaching. There are endless EdTech tools and programs for use with our Clear Touch Interactive® panels as well as other devices used in your schools. Since our panels are both device and software agnostic, you are free to flip the classroom and create a more interactive experience using any tools you prefer.

August 3, 2018

Clear Touch Team

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