Last year, Edudemic published a list of the most essential and popular educational tools used in modern classrooms across the globe. While many of 2013’s contenders retain top spots for 2014, there are a few new and noteworthy tools that made it onto this year’s list, and some of last year’s mentions have shifted in the rankings. We highly recommend taking a look at these “battle-tested” teaching tools; some of them may be a perfect fit for your modern classroom.
Image via Flickr by topgold
It’s no surprise that Google once again reigns supreme. Google claims that more than 40 million students and educators use its suite of free apps. And why wouldn’t they? Google Apps for Education include tools like Google Docs, which helps student and teachers collaborate, and a calendar that helps students and teachers stay organized. The customizable security settings lend peace of mind, and it’s all ad-free. This suite of tools retains its top-dog position from 2013, thanks to its utility and because it continues to be so wildly popular with educators on a worldwide scale.
Twitter stays planted firmly in its number two spot primarily because it has evolved into a legitimate place for growing a personal learning network (PLN) among educators. More and more teachers, in fact, are realizing just how handy this social network is when it comes to stimulating thought-provoking discussions. Educator Chris Bonke, whose story appeared on The Atlantic’s website, says he initially hesitated to use Twitter for his Freshman English class at North High School in Downer’s Grove, Illinois. However, Bonke explains that he found it helped his students engage in conversation about their assigned reading material.
What student wouldn’t choose to watch YouTube rather than read a textbook? This video-sharing platform is a universe in itself, with myriad channels that can help educators. Among the most popular channels that are bound to capture students’ attention is Shots of Awe, which presents fascinating facts about a range of scientific topics. For its ever-growing usefulness, YouTube moved up a spot in the rankings from last year’s list.
Image via Flickr by espiche
Edmodo, like Google, boasts more than 40 million members. This all-in-one learning platform gives teachers the power to easily schedule homework and assignments, read about the latest trends in education, network with other teachers, and monitor student progress. The best part? Unlike other industry-leading learning management systems, Edmodo is free. Last year, Edmodo came in at number seven, but its booming popularity has secured the number four spot in 2014.
The most popular upstart to break into this year’s list is Remind. One in four teachers use the app, according to a recently published article by NPR. “Think of it as a combo of sticky note and class newsletter for the digital age,” writes nprED reviewer Elissa Nadworny. “Remind allows teachers to send messages — via email, cellphone, iPad or Android device — to an entire class with the push of a button.” Businessweek says that about one million teachers and 17 million students and parents use Remind. The app is particularly popular in Texas, Georgia, and Alabama, where between 40 and 50 percent of teachers use it. Remind is a newcomer on our list of popular teaching tools, but its star is clearly rising.
Last year, WordPress came in at number nine on our list, but this year we moved this platform (and all of its associated blogging tools) to the number six spot because of its value to educators. Teachers can start a classroom blog that all students can contribute to; this encourages them to think deeply about what they are learning and engage in discussions. It also serves as a fun way to help them hone their writing skills.
Evernote proudly points out that it has more than 100 million users. A good number of those users are teachers. They make use of the app to share information with students and substitute teachers, organize lesson plans, and jot down ideas. The tags and reminders features can help you stay on schedule and on top of all your material. Last year, Evernote came in at number five on the list, and the only reason it dropped a few places is because there are so many other awesome teaching tools that merit a mention. See Edudemic’s recent walkthrough on using Evernote to build student portfolios to get an idea of this tool’s potential for your classroom.
Image via edpuzzle.com
EDpuzzle is another newcomer on the list, and its spot is well-deserved, thanks to its ability to transform any video into a real lesson. With EDpuzzle, you can add your voice to videos or even insert questions. You can also search for useful videos across multiple platforms including YouTube and LearnZillion. If you want your students to slow down and digest the material, you can disable skipping on a video.
Easel.ly is a relatively new tool; it stepped onto the scene in 2012, and since then, it has welcomed more than 300,000 users. This free gem lets you create custom infographics. Whether you want to break down a complex idea using charts and images or just want to highlight some main points, Easel.ly lets you do it — well, easily. As Easel.ly continues to evolve, we wouldn’t be surprised to see it climb a few spots on this list.
Dropbox is another cloud storage service that gives you easy access to your documents at any time and any place. All you have to do is drag a file or folder into Dropbox, and it syncs across all your devices. Even though it was number six on our list last year, this app has fallen to the 10th spot because Google Drive has usurped much of its functionality.
The following are some teaching tools that we showcased on last year’s list. They still have undeniable value to educators, but were bumped off the list because they’ve become more stagnant in popularity than the exciting newcomers that have supplanted them:
Skype: This communication service lets you collaborate with colleagues or students around the world. Skype took the number three spot on last year’s list.
Socrative: Socrative came in at number 10 last year. It is a platform that encourages student discussion by allowing teachers to create assessments and activities and keep an eye on how students perform.
Class Dojo: This app was in the number eight spot on last year’s list. It is a perfect fit for elementary school classrooms because it lets you instantly reward good behavior and point out less-than-ideal behavior. A little more than 2 million teachers use Class Dojo.
We don’t blame you if all the teaching tools available to educators leave you feeling a tad overwhelmed. Try them out one at a time and see what works for your classroom!