ISTE 2015 Roundup: All the Company News You Need to Know

By
Mary Jo Madda

This year, the annual ISTE conference brought more than 18,000 20,000 enthralled educators, 1,000 sessions and 500 exhibits to the City of Brotherly Love to chat about edtech and the like. As per usual, a number of companies and organizations chose the occasion to announce updates and new product releases, and EdSurge was on the Philadelphia Convention floor to catch them all. Here’s a round-up of Philly’s best. (And ten points to you if you got that reference.)

Reports and Research

The New Media Consortium is back with a new K-12 Horizon Report, which forecasts key trends, opportunities and challenges to the adoption of education technology tools across the world. Here’s what the crystal ball is predicting—and how the prophecies have changed over the years.

From the Big Guys...

Samsung and McGraw-Hill announced “Classroom in a Box,” a collection of hardware, software and services geared at K-12 schools. The package includes professional development from McGraw-Hill, the Google Chrome Management Console as a classroom management tool, deployment services from Samsung, and digital curriculum (including 30 1-year licenses for Thrive and one-year subscriptions to McGraw-Hill’s math and English language arts curriculum, aligned to grades 3-8).

Google made a couple of big announcements at ISTE, in addition to showing off its Google Expeditions virtual tour products and resources. First off, developers can now embed the Classroom "share" button and sign up for the developer preview of the Classroom API, which will run until the end of July. (Sign up here for early access.) Google also debuted the Classroom "share" button as allowing schools to assign or turn-link videos and images from another webpage or product. More information here on Google's official blogpost.

Follett announced Lightbox, a collection of tools and resources that function like e-books, but with quizzes, read-aloud support, and more. Each Lightbox aligns to a certain topic or theme (such as the Civil War or astronomy, for example) and runs a teacher a one time purchase of $40 for unlimited student usage. Yes, you read that right--buy it once, and you have it forever, usable by any students. There are currently 120 K-6 Lightbox e-books, and will be available on August 1. Pre-order them here.

Apple recently released updates to the iTunes U store, reachable at itunes.com/foreducators. iTunes U now features a “Free Books by Educators” section, and a “Real-World Learning” section, which is comprised of guides by educators on integrating tech tools in the classroom like Aurasma and Scoodle Jam. Additionally, iTunes U has three new planning features, including a Homework Hand-in and a more integrated gradebook. And for those educators exciting about the upcoming iOS 9 (launching in the fall), rest assured--the new iOS will make mobile device management much easier. Schools can expect to now dispense software to Apple devices without individual Apple IDs, and for the first time, schools can generate their own IDs for students (meaning students will no longer have to use their personal Apple IDs).

Edmodo will integrate Microsoft Office 365 into its platform in fall 2015. It also launched a content marketplace and a single-sign on service that lets users log in using school credentials, otherwise known as Edmodo Spotlight.

Microsoft has launched a portal dedicated to helping teachers use Minecraft, the popular sandbox game that the company acquired for $2.5 billion in 2014. Anthony Salcito, Vice President of Worldwide Education, described the site in a blog post as a "destination designed to provide educators with a forum to share their ideas and receive inspiration." For now the site is sparse on resources, but given the popularity and constructive nature of the game, we expect it to be populated with wild, awesome ideas pretty soon.

Autodesk announced the release of new—and free—maker curricula for teachers and students. The company now offers three design thinking and modeling courses for students through iTunesU, along with an iBook to promote the power of sketching in the classroom and teach students about the company’s sketching software. More from EdSurge here.

...And the Smaller Ones

Are you a fan of Making and coding in the classroom, but not sure how to bring it to your fellow staff members on your own? LittleBits, provider of modular electronics, announced its first “Every Student” Subscription Program, by which it will provide schools with a full-service soup-to-nuts collection of equipment and programming to teach students about electronics and STEAM. Benefits include PD opportunities, districtwide or schoolwide littleBits kits for every students, and the “bitCare” maintenance program. Email education@littleBits.cc for more info.

Celly, provider of a private communication network for schools, announced a crowdfunding service for schools and educators. Unlike other platforms, projects don’t need to meet their goals to receive money.

Instructure’s Canvas learning management system is popular among universities and companies. But the company is also enjoying traction in K-12, especially after Washington state schools and the state of North Carolina have recently selected Canvas as their official LMS.

Noticed anything we missed here, ISTE goers? Add your comments below.

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