Thursday, January 1, 2015
Ten Popular Ed Tech Tools That Were Updated in 2014
During the summer the IT department at your school may have been working to update the technology infrastructure in your school. At the same time, the developers of many of your favorite apps and services were working hard to update what you can do with technology in your classroom. Here are ten popular services that were updated over the summer.
Remind 101, the popular service for sending text messages to students and parents, changed its name to simply Remind. The service itself has not changed and the your Remind 101 account was not affected by the name change. Click here to learn more about Remind.
Padlet, one of my favorite tools for sharing notes, introduced a couple of slick new offerings. In addition to the free-for-all and stream layout options, Padlet now offers a grid layout option. You can switch between the layouts at any time. Padlet also introduced Padlet Mini. Padlet Mini is a Chrome extension that you can use as a collaborative bookmarking tool. Click here to see a video demonstration of Padlet Mini.
TodaysMeet, a long-time favorite tool of mine for backchanneling in the classroom, this month introduced two long-requested features. First, you can now create an account on TodaysMeet. By creating an account you can keep track of all of your chatrooms in one place, restrict access to your rooms, and close rooms early if the conversation gets too far off track. The second feature added to TodaysMeet is the ability to moderate comments in a chatroom. Click here for more information about these updates.
Storyboard That, a tool for creating cartoons, introduced new teacher guides. The teacher guides are complete lesson plans with examples of using cartoons created on Storyboard That to teach classic literature lessons. Storyboard That also added posable characters to its catalog of more than 40,000 pieces of clip art to use in your projects. (Disclosure: Storyboard That is an advertiser on Free Technology for Teachers).
Classtools.net, a site that offers dozens of free tools for teachers, introduced a slick new classroom timer. The Classtools timer allows you create multiple timers on one page and set each timer to music. Hit this link to see an example.
Thinglink, a service for creating interactive images, added the option to create interactive videos. ThingLink Video is still in beta, but it looks promising. To create an interactive video you simply paste the URL of a YouTube video into ThingLink Video then add pinmarks to it in the same way that you add pinmarks to ThingLink Images. You can see an example of how ThingLink Video works by visiting this page.
Socrative, a popular tool for polling audiences through mobile devices and laptops, was acquired by MasteryConnect over the summer. MasteryConnect plans to keep Socrative running as a stand-alone service. A new Socrative user guide was released this summer. The new user guide is based on Socrative 2.0 which all Socrative users have now been migrated to. Click here to learn more about MasteryConnect’s acquisition of Socrative. (Disclosure: MasteryConnect is an advertiser on Free Technology for Teachers).
ClassDojo introduced a long-awaited feature this summer. You can now share classes and students in ClassDojo. This means that more than one teacher can record behavior information about a student. This update also means that you can transfer a student between teachers without having to start a new record for that student. You can read more about this important update by clicking here.
Kaizena, a free Google Drive app, introduced the option to give voice comments on Google Slides in addition to giving voice comments on Google Documents. Learn how to use this valuable add-on in this post.
Kahoot, a classroom polling tool that is quickly becoming popular, has added the option to moderate user names in activities. In the past students could use funny aliases and if the aliases they choose were inappropriate you would have to restart the activity. Now you can simply kick that alias name out of the activity all together.
Bonus Item: This just in...
Watch2Gether, a service for sharing and chatting about videos in real time, added a couple of frequently requested features. Watch2Gether now supports using videos from Vimeo as well as YouTube, The other frequently requested feature added to Watch2Gether is the option to moderate comments in the discussions.