The items listed below are some of the best new and emerging educational technologies and tools that we have come across in our travels and work in schools. If you have something new that you love, let us know and we'll add it here!
SketchUp is a powerful, yet surprisingly easy to use program for designing buildings, vehicles... practically anything to scale in 3D on a computer. Google purchased SketchUp many years ago in order to create (and let others create) the 3D buildings in Google Maps and Google Earth. Ever since Google purchased SketchUp, teachers and students in Utah have had free access to this software. I've created models of the last two homes I've lived in. In 3D. To scale. It's an incredible tool.
Still not sure what Sketchup is?
SketchUp users are architects, designers, builders, makers and engineers. They are the people who shape the physical world. They are important, and they deserve great tools because great tools produce great work.
Great tools are ones you look forward to using. They do one thing (or maybe two) really, really well. They let you do what you want without having to figure out how. They help with hard or boring tasks so that you can focus on being creative, or productive, or both. And they are, in their own way, beautiful.
At SketchUp, we do our best to make great tools for drawing. For our users, drawing is thinking. They draw to explore ideas, to figure things out, to show other people what they mean. They draw because they love it, and because nothing great was ever built that didn't start with a great drawing.
However, this is not the reason for this post...
As of a few months ago, my.SketchUp was released as a beta preview of their software that runs entirely in a web browser. This means that pretty much any device with a mouse and a screen can use SketchUp for 3D design - even Chromebooks! This is a huge advance, and a great way to introduce students to 3D Modeling.
Have you ever heard a student wish that they could start building 3D worlds for gaming? Design a dream home? Create a building of the future? With SketchUp, they CAN! It's very easy to learn how to use - just visit their Learning page.
Science Journal is a tool for doing science with your smartphone. You can use the sensors in your phone or connect to external sensors to conduct experiments on the world around you. Organize your ideas into projects, make predictions, take notes and collect data in multiple trials, then annotate and explore your results. It's the lab notebook you always have with you.
Need more ideas for your Science courses? Here are 8 Apps that Turn Citizens into Scientists from Scientific American.
Google announced recently that they have fully integrated Google Cast (formerly known as Chromecast) into the Chrome web browser. Is this good news for teachers? If you have access to, or have a classroom set of Chromebooks, then the resounding answer is YES!
In the past, you needed a $40'ish piece of hardware that you could plug directly into a newer TV or projector which you could then send or "cast" any Chrome browser page to that device to show the video and audio. It was a great solution for the home, but it never really caught on with any teachers that I knew of - probably because the majority of teachers have, shall we say, "Vintage" projectors in their classrooms which didn't have the proper HDMI connections.
On the iOS side, many schools have tried really hard to get Apple TV's working. They work amazingly well in the home environment, but for some technical reasons that I'll spare you today, they didn't work very well in large scale school wireless networks. And, each Apple TV set you back $99.
Now, back to why this announcement is great news for teachers, especially those teachers integrating Chromebooks into their classrooms. Google has also released a new Chrome app called Google Cast for Education. Once you install this app for your Chrome browser, your computer will act as the Chromecast device. Since Google Cast is now integrated into Chrome, any of your students with a Chromebook can now request to share their screen with you, to show you the great work they are doing, or the amazing video or page that they found while researching online.
Since your classroom computer is probably already hooked up to your classroom projector &/or interactive whiteboard, students that 'Cast' their screens to you will also be sharing to the entire class! No extra things to buy, no extra configurations, it just works. If you are worried about students hijacking your screen, fear not! Google has built in some pretty clever settings for this reason. No one can see your screen to share unless you have shared this privilege with them. Also, when they attempt to share their screen, depending on the user you can set it so that you must approve it before it shows on your screen, or it will just show up. They have also integrated Google Classroom so that you can invite a whole class at a time to share to your screen. It's pretty cool!
Learn more about Google Cast for Education here:
zSpace is the virtual reality learning experience already being used in over 250 school districts today. Here’s a quick video preview to see how one district is using zSpace both in their elementary and high schools.
We also announced at the 2016 ISTE Conference in Denver that zSpace is working with Google to create an end-to-end virtual reality classroom experience that combines the power of zSpace’s interactive Screen VR technology with the Google Expeditions Pioneer Program.
To further explore how your teachers and students can immediately leverage this transformative technology within their curriculum, visit our website at http://zspace.com.
Here's the description: Mathpix is the first app that lets you solve and visualize math by taking pictures of your handwriting (printed math works too!). Mathpix wants to replace expensive and clunky graphing calculators to provide a free and fun learning aid for math students across the world.
Well before Pokémon GO got millions off of the sofa and out in "The Real World" searching for virtual characters, teachers were using virtual and augmented reality to transform their instruction, to bring the world into their classrooms for students to experience and interact with. Here are a few resources to help you get going using this technology in your instruction:
Read&Write for Google Chrome™ offers a range of powerful support tools to help students gain confidence with reading, writing, studying and research, including:
• Hear words, passages, or whole documents read aloud with easy-to-follow dual color highlighting
• See the meaning of words explained with text and picture dictionaries
• Hear text translated into other languages
• Get suggestions for the current or next word as you type
• Turn words into text as you speak
• Highlight text in documents or the web and collect for use in other documents
• Create and listen to voice notes directly inside of Google Docs
• Simplify and summarize text on web pages
Read&Write for Google Chrome™ is a user-friendly chrome extension for use with PCs, Macs and Chromebooks. It works with web pages and common file types in Google Drive, including Google Docs, PDF, and ePub. When you install Read&Write from the Chrome Store, you have access ALL of these features FREE for 30 days. After 30 days, you can still access Read Aloud and Translator features in Google Docs and web pages. Premium features for Google Docs, web, PDF, ePub, and Kes files are available by purchasing a subscription for single users, groups of users, or domains.
Teachers can get a FREE premium subscription to Read&Write for Google Chrome. Head here to register and activate your free premium subscription after installing the Read&Write trial. Learn more about Read&Write here.
If you are curious about using Flipped & Blended Instruction, but don't know where to start, Screencastify is a great Chrome extension that will allow you to quickly record your screen along with your voice and webcam to create short instructional videos or lessons for your students. Since every Chromebook has a web cam and microphone, Screencastify works well for student projects - it even will record just the webcam only so that your student's Chromebook can be used as a video camera! Best of all, it's free for videos up to 10 minutes in length. You can save your recordings to Google Drive to easilly share with students, or upload them to YouTube with a click.
TED-Ed’s mission is to spark and celebrate the ideas of teachers and students around the world. Everything they do supports learning — from producing a growing library of original animated videos, to providing an international platform for teachers to create their own interactive lessons, to helping curious students around the globe bring TED to their schools and gain presentation literacy skills, to celebrating innovative leadership within TED-Ed’s global network of over 250,000 teachers. TED-Ed has grown from an idea worth spreading into an award-winning education platform that serves millions of teachers and students around the world every week.
Interested or curious about flipped and blended learning? TEDEd is a great place to start if you are already using videos from YouTube in your instruction. TEDEd allows you to add multiple choice and open-ended questions to videos, as well as provide a place for online class discussions and information do "Dig Deeper" into the topic. EdPuzzle is another similar tool with some great features that will enable you to greatly enhance video for instruction - inside and outside of your classroom.
Seesaw is a new platform available for the iPad, Android devices, as a Chromebook app or on any computer with Chrome or Firefox. It empowers students of any age to independently document what they are learning at school. Students capture learning with photos and videos of physical work, or by adding digital creations. Everything is uploaded and kept organized for teachers. With support for QR code sign in for younger learners and email/Google account sign in for older students, Seesaw works in any K-12 classroom.