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With Labor Day just around the corner, and many schools now back in session, apps focusing on education and school life have increasingly been in the news.
Technology plays such a major role in education these days that there is now even an app to help schools and districts manage the many apps and online systems they use. Named ‘Clever’, and the brainchild of three San Francisco-based Harvard graduates, the app aims to simplify the process by providing a single sign-in process so that users can more easily access and manage the apps and districts can better control and track which apps are used. As this report from NPR notes, Clever also tackles the important topic of privacy, by ensuring that sensitive information is properly encrypted as it flows through the system. And it’s clearly hitting the mark – according to Clever’s website, ‘78 of the top 100 school districts’ in the US are now using it.
So with this growing convergence of education and technology in place, here’s a look at some of the most interesting apps out there right now.
With concerns in some areas that heavy use of smartphones and tablets is harming children’s ability to read, BooktrackClassroom is a brilliant app that tackles the problem head-on. Its aim is to make reading more engaging and exciting by providing a soundtrack to the text. Students can add music and sound to whatever they are reading, or to their very own stories and can download classic books to read that come with a ready-made soundtrack. According to the website, it’s highly effective – with students reading for 30% longer, and reporting 35% higher satisfaction when reading with Booktrack. It’s also available for adults, so if this is something that sounds good to you, check out Booktrack.com. With Peter Thiel (co-founder and former CEO of Paypal) one of the major early investors, I think this is one app we’ll be hearing a lot more of.
Another app that can be enjoyed by children and adults alike, the BloomSky app is free to download and allows users to follow HD camera footage from weather stations placed all over the world. It’s a great way of learning how to understand weather patterns and recognize warning signs (there’s a healthy community of Bloomsky weather enthusiasts on social media) and educators can take it one step further by buying a BloomSky station for their own location and track key indicators such as humidity, temperature and air pressure.
As the push for better STEM education continues, this app targeting elementary-age students is a great example of gamification making a subject which for many children is not their favorite, fun. For example, in one game children learn basic economic principles by selling pizza to customers and also set the prices. Motion Maths was founded at the Stanford Graduate School of Education and was the 2015 recipient of the American Association of School Librarians award for the ‘Best App for Teaching and Learning’ so comes with great pedigree.
Cyberbullying is a definite blight on the modern landscape, but one amazing 15 year-old girl has created an app that aims to stop the damage before it is done. Trisha Prabhu has created ‘Rethink’ that pops up an alert message if it detects certain offensive words are being used in a message. Trisha tested her app on 300 students with incredible results. As she told Good Morning America this week, “The overall willingness to post an offensive message drops from 71 percent to 4 percent.” An incredible example of a very talented young woman taking on a very serious problem on her own initiative.
If you’re creating the next game changer in education, we’d love to hear from you. With extensive experience taking early stage startups to market, we’re here to help. As ever, please get in touch.
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