I am not a specialist in the latest edtech applications. But I do know what it’s like to be in a student, so I suppose I have some expertise in that. And I am part of Lynbrook High School’s Virtual Vikings, a student organization that informs teachers about current technological innovations in the educational space.
Part of my task as a Virtual Viking is to discover the latest interactive educational applications that can create a fun learning experience at school. And so I was encouraged by my Virtual Vikings advisor, Mrs. Estrella, to attend EdSurge’s Tech for School Summit on November 2nd, 2013.
Now normally, I spend my Saturdays studying or playing on my computer. But as someone who is passionate about technology, this was an opportunity to check out new tools and introduce them to my school.
EdSurge aimed to have its participants “Play, Listen, Explore and Share.” And that is exactly what I did. I had the opportunity to play with the latest educational applications, listen to entrepreneurs talk about how their technology can improve the learning experience, explore the intersection of technology and learning, and share memorable experiences with our school community.
But sorting through information from 30 companies to find the right apps and tools wasn’t easy. What made that easier was being able to see videos of products in action. The demonstrations were helpful because as a student who struggles with language skills I sometimes need to visualize the details to understand the product.
Being able to talk to the companies’ founders and developers was a great way to learn about the products. I enjoyed asking direct questions, receiving answers, and offering instant feedback about their tools. I kept notes about how my school might be able to use the products for different subjects, their pros and cons, and what the company can do to increase users. Each company also gave out raffle tickets for people who reviewed their products. By the end of the day, I checked out 27 companies!
One tool I found particularly intriguing was Gobstopper (now called Curriculet), a tool that offers digital annotation, dictionary, and progress reports for both teacher and student to support their work. It grabbed my attention because our school does not currently use any software that assists literature teachers with turning simple reading assignments into a more interactive experience. For instance, Gobstopper enables literature teachers to highlight a specific passage from a novel and have students respond to the close reading assignments. Gobstopper also tracks each student’s performance, so teachers can assess how long it takes students to complete assignments.
I have already recommended some of the applications that I saw to teachers, such as Ellevation, Gobstopper, NoRedInk, The Answer Pad, and Zaption. My English Language Development teachers responded very favorably to Gobstopper and ELLevation and said he would look into integrating the applications to the classroom. I would particularly love to see NoRedInk, a grammar application, running in all all the literature classes. It can certainly be a helpful asset for students when they write papers!
EdSurge was more than just a one-day event that enabled me to explore educational applications. It opened my eyes to how quickly new technologies are developing to shape the learning field. And to make the day even sweeter, I won an iPad from the raffle drawing! Guess all the reviews I wrote paid off. The first thing I did was send an email to my friends in Japan.
In the future, I hope to create fun educational games. Maybe someday I’ll be one of the developers on the other side of the table.