Fifty of the best ed-tech products for colleges and schools


Powerspeak12 (Middlebury Interactive Languages)

Designed for elementary, middle, and high school students by Middlebury College in conjunction with K12 Inc., powerspeak12 language-learning programs include intuitive games and activities that immerse students in a natural and powerful way to learn language. The content also aligns with state and national standards as defined by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages.

“Students pick the language that they would like to study, and they can progress at their own speed,” said Mark Fruehe, a global studies teacher for Community Consolidated School District 93 in Illinois. “The students listen, read, write, and speak the language on a daily basis in a one-on-one atmosphere. Every student has a native-speaking online tutor. Students create an avatar of themselves that completes lessons and earns money. With the money, the students can buy things for their avatar. This motivates them to work on the lessons. Class surveys show that 89 percent of the students like or really like the program. They are very engaged, and they learn a lot.”

READ 180 (Scholastic Inc.)

READ 180 is a comprehensive system of curriculum, instruction, assessment, and professional development that has been proven to raise reading achievement for struggling readers in grades 4-12.

READ 180 “has the flexibility and differentiation components available to reach middle school students who are reading anywhere from one to four grade levels below standard,” said Steve Rish, learning behavior specialist for Wilmette District 39 in Illinois. “The program addresses those needs through whole-group instruction, small-group instruction, independent reading, and instructional software. The students in my class have made tremendous gains in their vocabulary, comprehension, and writing and are highly engaged in their learning. I would highly recommend this product.”

ResponseCard NXT (Turning Technologies)

The ResponseCard NXT offers the same features as other radio-frequency-based student response systems, but it also includes advanced capabilities such as cell-phone style text entry for short answer and essay questions—and a self-paced test mode for individual assessment. The unit also contains an LCD display that indicates responses have been received.

“We have begun using Turning Technologies’ NXT student response systems in our grade this past year and have already seen substantial increases in student engagement, participation, and test scores,” said Brian Wickenheiser, a sixth-grade teacher and elementary technology chair for Minnesota’s Esko School District. “By having real-time progress monitoring, we have been able to help students increase their learning [and] self-evaluation during formative assessments. … Each student is also able to offer [his or her] opinion during a lesson, thereby prompting better small-group collaboration and class discussions. This has increased not only participation, but also the quality of work—each student knows [his or her] effort (or lack thereof!) is being observed.” He added: “The potential and value of this system is incredible—no other one-to-one device can give the versatility that the NXTs can give at only $50 per student.”

SchoolMessenger (Reliance Communications)

SchoolMessenger is a suite of communication solutions for education, including an automated parent notification service, a survey tool, and an anonymous communication service called Talk About It.

“We use the system to alert parents to absences, grade reporting, school events such as open houses or athletic events, and school closings,” said Harold Morgan, chief information officer for Leslie County Schools in Kentucky. “We are able to contact every parent in our district within a time span of about 15 to 20 minutes. [And because it’s] web-based, we can deliver messages from anywhere there is internet service, allowing us to reach out even when our district office might not have power.” Through the product’s survey tool, “we can now get more accurate information on things like how many students have computers, tablets, or smart phones at home. This has proven to be much more effective and reliable than passing out paper surveys to be taken home and retuned by students. It allows us to have more confidence in our decision making.”

eCampus News Staff