CURING APP-BLINDNESS: Before you buy a refrigerator, you probably sneak a peek at Consumer Reports; before plunking down cash for a digital camera, you might peruse CNET. The list goes on--but has in the past skipped right over education technology. EdSurge was founded to create a credible, independent venue to share experiences in using education technology. (Our beta is the first version of this. Have you taken a look?)
We're happy to see others calling for this kind of work, too. This week, the Brookings Institute issued a report: "Choosing Blindly: Instructional Materials, Teacher Effectiveness, and the Common Core." The authors propose that state education agencies need to collect more data and that funders should support companies that share it. (Hey, great idea!)
While EdSurge has focused more on teacher and schools, this week, nonprofit Common Sense Media debuted a beta of its edtech review site aimed at parents. Common Sense already reviews software, video games and movies. It has drawn on educators to build a thoughtful report card on edtech apps and is kicking off the beta with 150 or so reviews. Although some links seemed a little rusty, the overall presentation is nicely architected and the reviews are thoughtful and clear.
At least two other startups are also aiming to help educators and parents find edtech tools: EdShelf, part of the current crop of Imagine K12 ventures, calls itself a "directory" of digital tools. It's still in development but so far relies more heavily on descriptions written by vendors. Similarly Boston-based startup, Classroom Window is also showing its beta, hoping to encourage teachers and others to write reviews of everything from tablets to software.
This is all good stuff. Frank conversations about what works--and what doesn't--will benefit both those who use edtech tools and those who make them.