Lecture Capture 2.0: The Evolution of Video in Higher Ed

Four guiding principles for shifting to deeper engagement platforms between faculty and students.

GUEST COLUMN | by Bradley S. Fordham

CREDIT Echo360.pngWhile it’s impossible that the Greek philosopher Heraclitus had campus technology in mind when he postulated that “the only thing that is constant is change,” this phrase could nevertheless be the mantra of instructional technology departments. Rapid changes in available technology, student expectations, and instructor needs mean campus IT leaders constantly face an ever-shifting landscape, in which they must find solutions with limited resources.

Technology should make life easier, not more complicated.

Savvy CIOs have realized that getting ahead of the curve requires solutions that meet immediate needs but are designed for “future proof” evolution. Take video, for example. Over the past decade, video capture has become a must-have technology across the campus. In the classroom, “lecture capture” supports instructors who face increasing class sizes in general education courses as well as the rise of nontraditional students, who require flexibility to view course material anytime, anywhere. But, as universities seek to better anticipate the needs of their diverse student body, the application of video as an instructional technology must evolve beyond simply “capturing” a lecture.

In a Lecture Capture 2.0 world, lecture capture is no longer about “quick and dirty” class recordings to be reviewed later. Advanced capabilities have moved us beyond simply capturing audio and video to capturing all of the learning activities in the classroom, facilitating more meaningful engagement between teachers and students, and surfacing new insights about how students learn. To move beyond simple capture, technology departments can no longer evaluate video platforms by checking the boxes of legacy features, but instead must consider how and whether video platforms are designed for pedagogy to enable deeper engagement between faculty and students.

There are four guiding principles for shifting to Lecture Capture 2.0:

Invest in Flexible Solutions to Reliably Support All Teaching & Learning Environments
Unfortunately, many lecture capture systems are, by design, held hostage in large lecture halls or other legacy instructional environments. They are not effective across the wide range of new teaching and learning environments being deployed as universities transcend traditional lectures to more online, hybrid, smaller group, and peer-to-peer settings.

A 2.0 approach enables seamless capture across wide and growing ranges of venues – auditoriums, classrooms of any size, laboratories, clinical settings, study or project group meetings, faculty offices, dorm rooms, and field work locations. In order to meet these varying needs, a platform needs mobile and fixed hardware options, agile capture software for classroom PCs, and robust methods for instructional sessions to be added ad-hoc.

Capture Insights, Not Just Video
New technologies like Fitbit and Waze capture data about how we move, sleep, and drive, and then use insights from this data to help us make better decisions in real time. This type of granular, timely data around student behavior in the classroom has not been available to monitor and improve teaching and learning—until now.

Lecture Capture 2.0 systems go beyond just recording videos to surfacing insights into student engagement by measuring student behaviors associated with perseverance and success such as asking questions during and after class, note taking, revisiting content (including videos), and collaboration with peers. This data on learning behaviors is becoming critically important as institutions emphasize retention and other student success initiatives. Without this new, granular behavioral data, real-time remediation (particularly at scale) is nearly impossible.

Improve End-User Experience and Satisfaction
Technology should make life easier, not more complicated. Lecture Capture 2.0 takes burdens off faculty by automating recording, measurement, and content delivery processes, an improvement over many systems designed for ad hoc or opt-in video recording of instructional sessions.

Additionally, technology should meet users where they are. Today, students and faculty expect to access and share course materials online with just a few clicks or taps as faculty mini-lectures become more popular, and personal capture and remote classroom solutions allow faculty to record, share, and teach “on the go” using personal or mobile devices. Students can likewise record relevant coursework on their PC, tablet, or smartphone. These mobile solutions allow students to engage with materials and collaborate with peers and instructors, while doing laundry, on the bus, or juggling home or family activities.

Demand Open, State-Of-The-Art Architecture
All of these powerful teaching and learning tools require software running on servers to drive them. In the past, these were on campus with the university responsible for deploying, securing, managing, scaling, and updating this infrastructure. On-premise systems were often closed, and vendors offered limited interoperability support. Infrastructure became obsolete faster than finances for refresh became available, so processing power was fixed and eventually insufficient.

As a way to circumnavigate these challenges, many university IT departments switched to servers in the cloud; however, simply moving from on-campus to the cloud is not enough. Solutions must be totally re-architected for the cloud to be able to dynamically scale up and down instantly and take advantage of new infrastructure technologies as soon as they emerge. Institutions must identify vendor partners that offer full support for all lecture capture 2.0 components deployed on campus (e.g., robust video recorders) as well as all teaching and learning capabilities deployed in the cloud. Ideal partners also follow an open, standards-based system integration philosophy recognizing that when universities can easily integrate multiple systems, everybody wins.

Across the country, forward-thinking technology departments, like those at University of Kentucky and University of Cincinnati, are exploiting this new reality of Lecture Capture 2.0, where lectures are no longer passive, and these revolutionary new teaching and learning technologies are not limited to traditional lecture halls. This evolution in video provides exciting opportunities to extend and transform teaching and learning moments, and help institutions continue to advance their academic missions achieving measurably improved levels of student success.

Bradley S. Fordham, Ph.D., is chief technology officer for Echo360 and serves on the IMS Global Technical Advisory Board Executive Committee. Previously, he has served as CTO of Amplify Education, has advised and consulted with NASA, Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC), other U.S. government agencies and Fortune 100 global technology companies.

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Supercharging Student Voices

A veteran designer creates a remarkable video platform for millions of learners.

INTERVIEW | by Victor Rivero

CREDIT Charles Miller Flipgrid.pngCharles Miller is changing the world. And it isn’t by accident. He is co-founder and Chief Design Officer of Flipgrid, a Minneapolis company focused on enabling video-driven social learning in classrooms and enterprises far and wide. He is also an Associate Professor in the College of Education and Human Development and the founder and former Executive Director of the Institute for Design Innovation at the University of Minnesota (UMN). Learners lives are better for his ideas coming to fruition; he’s been working on them for some time. In 2015, Charlie—with Jim Leslie—co-founded Flipgrid, an asynchronous video communication platform. In 2015, the Minneapolis St. Paul Business Journal inducted Charlie and Jim as Tech Titans for Investment Catalyst.

Student voice is a trend now and it stretches well into the horizon. It’s not going away. What we may see change is that we see an even greater focus on equity of voice, giving every student in every class the opportunity to speak up for what they believe in and to share their insights and experience.

Charlie has published more than one hundred journal articles, book chapters, and conference proceedings on the role of design in education; has received more than 30 million dollars in federal grant, foundation, and corporate funding; and has given hundreds of talks on design around the globe. Flipgrid was recently awarded the EdTech Digest Cool Tool Award for Best Product of 2017. The EdTech Awards (including Cool Tool, Leadership, and Trendsetter awards) honor innovators, leaders, and trendsetters shining bright in one of the greatest fields of human endeavor. “It’s an incredible honor to work on a product that amplifies students’ voices around the globe,” says Charlie. “To see our work and the work of our teachers and students recognized by the premier education technology publication EdTech Digest is simply humbling. We are longtime fans of the Cool Tool Awards, so this is beyond exciting for our team. Thanks to our inspiring teachers, students, and the entire EdTech Digest team.” From an amazing list of innovative products and companies shaping the future landscape of educational technology, Flipgrid is a social learning platform that now amplifies student voice in more than 50,000 Pre-K to PhD classrooms across 137 countries. Here, Charlie discusses digital citizenship, the importance of student voice, the power of video in learning, the state of education and technology’s role in it—as well as his thoughts on the future of learning. 

How does student voice impact the classroom?

Charlie: Currently, teachers are faced with many challenges in the classroom, including encouraging students to engage and take a stake in their education. One solution to student engagement is through social learning. By creating a curriculum that lends itself to social learning, educators allow students the opportunity to apply real-life experiences to educational concepts.

However, social learning is only successful if every student has a voice. A rich, collaborative dialogue is only beneficial if perspectives from every student are heard and taken into consideration. By inspiring all students to share their voice, they are empowered to share their insights, leading to deeper, more meaningful classroom conversations and a much richer learning experience.

What can educators do to ensure their students start their digital citizenship off on the right foot?

Charlie: Digital citizenship is becoming increasingly important as our society continues to be immersed in technology, and it’s crucial that students (especially younger students) learn the standards for appropriate, responsible technology use. For the near term it keeps them out of trouble and helps strengthen relationships with friends and peers, but more important, it sets them up for success later in life.

We are thrilled to see educators at all levels use Flipgrid to promote digital citizenship. Because digital citizenship is a lifelong process, educators recognize its importance and integrate into their curriculum. The majority of the digital citizenship assignments we see on Flipgrid are anchored on the ideas of treating others with kindness, using technology appropriately and understanding when to report anything that makes them feel uncomfortable.

A strong digital citizenship is a foundation for students as they develop into socially responsible adults.

How do you look at student voice and social learning – do they go hand in hand or are they different?

Charlie: Each student has his or her unique beliefs, insights and perspectives. Student voice is the act of expressing those ideas to their teacher, classmates and world. When students use their voices to apply their ideas to educational concepts, and their peers in turn watch and respond, they are engaging in social learning, so the two concepts very much go hand-in-hand.

At Flipgrid, our technology allows educators to expand the walls of their classroom by empowering students to apply their outside world experiences to the curriculum. When students share their voice with one another it opens their eyes to different perspectives and insights, resulting in a more rewarding, meaningful education.

What opportunity does video represent in transforming the learning experience?

Charlie: When we first created Flipgrid it was used to handle a very specific situation — student engagement. As a design professor at the University of Minnesota, I noticed that year after year it was always just four or five students who contributed to the class discussion. I had difficulty engaging shyer students in conversations, even when they knew they had something of value to add.

I created Flipgrid to “move the back row to the front of the classroom,” which means engaging every student and offering them equity of voice, including those modest students who sit in the back of the classroom and keep to themselves.

While student voice and social learning are broad objectives for Flipgrid, we made a conscious decision not to prescribe or build for specific use cases. There is no one way to use video in the classroom and we are constantly surprised and inspired by how educators develop their own ways of applying the technology to their specific situations.

Every day, we see one example after another of educators turning to technology that adapts to meet their needs and resist the technology that they have to adapt to.

Do you have any advice for school leaders seeking to introduce video into their classrooms?

Charlie: When it comes to introducing video, or any technology for that matter, into classrooms, our advice is to be creative and trust in what you believe will provide the most value for students.

We see educators at the K-12 level use video to encourage social learning. For example, a teacher in South Carolina uses Flipgrid to educate her middle school English class about Shakespeare. She created what we call a “grid,” or a digital community, for students to record and share their own Shakespearean insult videos. Her students engaged with the topic because they were more comfortable speaking into a camera, a method they are familiar with through apps like Snapchat and Instagram. They were also introduced to the topic through humor, which motivated even the most reluctant students to open up. We would never have thought of that use case on our own—brilliant!

In colleges and universities professors are using video to enrich student discussion and conversation. One of our more popular examples of video in higher education is Dr. Sam Richards’ sociology class at Penn State.

There are typically up to 1,000 students in Dr. Richards’ class speaking face-to-face about a variety of topics, including race, religion, and politics. With Flipgrid, every student has a voice and can engage with one another resulting in more meaningful conversation.

Beyond thinking creatively, it’s important to keep common logistical issues in mind. A couple of things, in particular, to watch for:

  • Ensure all students have access to the required technology.
  • Be mindful of school policies and regulations.
  • Start simple with topics students can confidently expand on.
  • Provide feedback and encourage students to learn from their peers.

What do you see as the state of education these days?

Charlie: As technology continues to be introduced to the classroom environment we are seeing educators unleash a new level of creativity and innovation with their students. Teachers are increasingly open to thinking drastically different about the way they run their classroom, whether it be embracing and “app smashing” various technologies for maximum value or physically rearranging the room promote a more engaged class.

We continue to be inspired by teachers’ commitment to enriching students’ lives and education.

What are your thoughts on technology’s role in education today?

Charlie: In short, it’s no longer tech for tech’s sake. There was a time when technology was introduced without a tangible use case and without a focus on adoption. Educators are becoming more sophisticated in how they look at and evaluate technology and are finding new ways to integrate technology into their curriculum that demonstrate meaningful impact. Technology is no longer integrated “for tech’s sake”. It must be easy to use and demonstrate an obvious complement to their curriculum.

What are a couple, or three, trends to watch on the horizon in education especially with regards to technology?

Charlie: Student voice is a trend now and it stretches well into the horizon. It’s not going away. What we may see change is that we see an even greater focus on equity of voice, giving every student in every class the opportunity to speak up for what they believe in and to share their insights and experience. Without equity of voice, student voice is just giving those same students who are already the lead contributors an even bigger platform.

As I mentioned earlier, we also see more time devoted to teaching students how to be productive digital citizens. It’s important for students to learn how to use technology and start their digital citizenship off on the right foot so they are set up for success later in life beyond the walls and safe space of the classroom.

Anything else you care to add or emphasize concerning video, ed tech, or anything else for that matter?

Charlie: At Flipgrid, every day we see one example after another of educators turning to technology that adapts to meet their needs and resist the technology that they have to adapt to. This is a key observation into why Flipgrid’s adoption has been so strong and continuing to grow. We embrace simplicity over complexity.

Flipgrid believes we should never tell educators how to apply technology or video in the classroom. Instead, we suggest Flipgrid as an easy to use app that can power their classroom to do what they want when they want. If you think about it, Flipgrid empowers teachers to be the Mark Zuckerberg of their own social learning network.

Victor Rivero is the Editor in Chief of EdTech Digest. Write to: victor@edtechdigest.com

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Trends | Afterschool & STEM System Building Evaluation 2016

CREDIT Afterschool and STEM report.pngStudents participating in afterschool programs that focus on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) reported increased interest in STEM careers and gains in important 21st century skills such as critical thinking and perseverance. Those findings emerge from new researchAfterschool & STEM System Building Evaluation 2016, an ambitious study supported by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation and STEM Next (established by the Noyce Foundation). The study looked at nearly 1,600 students across more than 160 afterschool programs in 11 states. Key findings show that 80 percent of students reported a positive gain in their science career knowledge and 78 percent experienced a positive change in their self-reported interest in science. By some estimates, nearly 80 percent of all new jobs over the next decade will require STEM skills. However, there we see fewer Latino and African-American workers in STEM fields: while these individuals represent 29 percent of the general workforce population, they make up just 16 percent of the advanced manufacturing workforce, 15 percent of the computing workforce, and 12 percent of the engineering workforce. Additionally, women are underrepresented in STEM jobs, and there has been little improvement over the last 13 years. Female workers represent 24 percent of the engineering workforce, 36 percent of the computing workforce, and just 18 percent of the advanced manufacturing workforce. This new research affirms the vital role afterschool programs play in helping prepare all of our students for success in school and work. “Afterschool programs have significant potential to help young people across America prepare for success in school today and jobs tomorrow,” says Ron Ottinger, director of STEM Next. “Afterschool STEM programs are inspiring and equipping young people to pursue careers they never imagined before—and helping them gain skills needed for virtually every job in the future.” Findings from the research, as well as new articles on STEM learning from policymakers, educators, businesses, foundations, and youth development leaders, can be found online at STEM Ready America: Inspiring and Preparing Students for Success with Afterschool and Summer Learning. 

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Future-Proofing Our Students

An advisor to some of the world’s leading companies talks edtech, students, learning.

INTERVIEW | by Victor Rivero

CREDIT Steve Cadigan img.jpgThis Silicon Valley-based global talent expert and HR (Tech) guru advises some of Silicon Valley’s most reputed companies on issues of talent, recruitment, culture as competitive advantage and leadership. He is former VP of Talent at LinkedIn and founder of Cadigan Talent Ventures. And just recently, Steve Cadigan (pictured, above) announced that he has co-founded Silicon Valley’s New ISDI Digital University™ and will be working hard to promote the first-ever Master’s of Internet (MIB) degree in Silicon Valley. In this exclusive, he talks about lessons from LinkedIn, edtech, advice for edtech startups, his perspective on the state of education—and what lies ahead. 

Any anecdote from your LinkedIn days that informs your current approach in advising companies?  

Steve: For me, it always comes down to culture. Our fortunes changed at LinkedIn the day we became crystal clear on who we were as a company and answered the critical question: “Why does anyone want to work here?” Once we all were on the same page, we then collectively made a firm commitment as a leadership team to be the best company anyone had ever worked for- then things really changed and we started to hire much more effectively and feel more confident as a company. I am surprised at how few organizations ask themselves the simple question, “Why would someone want to work here” in a very honest fashion that extends beyond – cool people, product roadmap or the perks and compensation.

While kids learn in a classroom – life does not continue after school in a classroom- life happens for most outside of class, so what are we doing to help kids in that regard?

What are your thoughts about edtech as a segment? 

Steve: Whenever you look at the viability of a segment, the first question you should ask is “What is the unmet need this segment addresses – and how large is it?” In looking at education today, particularly in the U.S., there is universal frustration on so many levels. Further, there are many different positions around both content and delivery and there is great passion and energy on education in general. Hence, I see a huge opportunity for edtech to address – many unhappy and frustrated customers looking for new approaches and solutions; however, I also see a big challenge because this is an emotional topic and there are wide-ranging opinions on how to solve the many challenges.

Any advice for edtech companies, especially fledgling companies, making their way forward into 2017 and beyond?

Steve: Be very clear on what you are going after. Vet that idea with as many people as possible. Find as big of a hole as you can that needs to be filled so you have the largest possible opportunity. Don’t be naive enough to think that you can do something without people who are already involved in “traditional” education models. I think sometimes people make the false assumption that people who are working in a broken system won’t be helpful in fixing that system. You desperately need people in the broken system to help you understand it and learn what ideas might or might not work. For an edtech firm to have no advisors or staff from the education space is a very risky and faulty approach, in my view. I recall in the early days of LinkedIn, our sales organization was selling a recruiting product to recruiters but had zero people selling who actually had recruited before. While the company did okay with these outsiders, once we put people with the knowledge of what it’s like to recruit (i.e., former recruiters) and how to relate to recruiters, then we really started to connect with customers better, build better products, and get closer to the industry. I think the same applies here to education.

What are your thoughts on the state of education these days? 

Steve: There is universal frustration and disappointment with the state of education today and I fear that people are ready to throw out programs and systems when perhaps just some minor adjustments or tuning is required. I think impatience and frustration is obscuring our ability to see the big picture. I am disappointed that the salary a teacher makes is way below the value we expect teachers to deliver to our precious kids – our future. While we do see a great deal of frustration about the state of education in the U.S., we don’t see much movement on how we compensate teachers.

At the same time, I think parents and communities are putting too much pressure on “schools” to educate and forgetting that an enormous amount of education should take place in the home and in families. We need to help families learn how to help their kids learn at home too – education should be 24×7, not just something that happens in the classroom. It extends well beyond the core subjects of math, English and social studies, for example. While kids learn in a classroom – life does not continue after school in a classroom- life happens for most outside of class, so what are we doing to help kids in that regard? That is a parental responsibility in large measure, and this is a big area of opportunity for edtech to help address: helping families outside the classroom.

With your understanding of company cultures, talent, HR, etc. – in light of that, what is your perspective on the purpose of education? 

Steve: The most important thing we can do for our kids is to help them grow the joy of learning and working with other people. Intellectual curiosity is a gift that will propel people far in life. Learning to think critically, ask questions, seek other perspectives is so important for teams and organizations, both profit and nonprofit. As someone who has recruited thousands and sadly fired many as well – the people who win in organizations are the people others want to be around, the people who are trusted, the people who do what they say they are going to do – it’s not always the smartest person who excels, so much as the person who others want to follow and work around. Sometimes I think we lose the plot with education when we put too much emphasis on grades for individual achievement with academics. Some of my best employees were ones who played a lot of team sports or who were part of group activities and have learned the art of working with others vs. solving a problem on their own. We need to really emphasize collaboration in classrooms and beyond, and value and reward teamwork more than we do today with our kids.

In your opinion, what is technology’s role in enhancing, improving, even transforming education?  

Steve: I see tech as a facilitator in moving education forward but it is not a panacea. We need to find the right balance of tech and human interaction. We need tech to help us link students, teachers and families together and to provide novel and dynamic was of learning. We all learn differently and the more diversity we have in delivery, the more likely we will reach a broader audience.

That said, I really do fear we will put too much expectation on technology to change things for us when we should look to tech to help us learn more about each other and our common humanity. Today, people put their hands and eyes on a device more than they do another human being. Think about the implications around that relative to building trust and teams. How do you trust someone who you communicate more with on a device than you do face to face? So, I see tech helping us in the right way, but it is not the panacea some may hope for and we should not bet on tech to be the solution to all of our problems.

I really do fear we will put too much expectation on technology to change things for us when we should look to tech to help us learn more about each other and our common humanity.

Let’s talk more about the ‘skills gap’, the meaning of ’21st century learning’, and what’s coming down the road very soon. Thoughts on all this? 

Steve: One of the harsh realities we face today is that technology is outpacing our ability to absorb and apply it, and organizations are faced with the huge challenge of finding ways to forecast and develop the skills necessary for the future of their organization. We have yet to find a way to help our workforce adjust as fast as new tech is replacing jobs, so we have some big challenges ahead. As I look at this reality, I think the most important skill we can build today in our workforce is the ability to adapt, to not only live with ambiguity but to be change leaders and to become constant learners. People need to recognize that a deep skillset in a particular area may have a short shelf life, but the ability to learn new skills quickly, and adapt to a changing environment is enormous, and this is what I refer to as future-proofing your career. We will never erase the skills gap as tech will continue to drive innovation and create new requirements and skills. We have to recognize that the more we have a learning workforce and the more we educate in a way that mirrors this changing reality, the more our leaders of tomorrow will be prepared to face whatever comes their way. It’s scary and daunting, yet also exciting.

Who is involved in the MIB – not ‘Men in Black’ of course – but Masters’ of Internet Business? Tell me more about it, who can do it, who is the perfect candidate, tech changes so fast – how do you accommodate for rapid change – how won’t this degree get old or stale fast? 

Steve: The MIB was born out of a fundamental reality: every organization is going through digital transformation today and this is only going to accelerate so we want to help professionals build the skills they need to succeed in the new digital economy and we want to help companies have the talent they need to help them transform.  Nobody is teaching Internet Business skills as comprehensively as we are anywhere in the U.S. I am so excited about our MIB – its the first of its kind in the U.S. – a Masters’ of Internet Business taught exclusively by accomplished business professionals in a highly practical and immersive way with a focus on helping students really build and leverage a knowledge network. We believe the future will continue to involve a great deal of change and so we prepare our students with the skills they need today, but also the ability to learn and adapt as new skills become required in the future. We want to future-proof the careers of our students and to achieve this, we are building a very robust community that lives with our students well beyond graduation to help them with their careers in the long term and that helps them adapt to an exciting and ever changing digital economy. And this lasting network we provide our students is how we ensure that our graduates stay current and fresh with their competitive skills well beyond the duration of the Masters classes.

What is the link between early learning, elementary, middle, high school, postsecondary – and even continuing education and workforce on the job training? Are there certain values or core elements from your vantage point at the corporate level, that educators and technology companies working in education, and edtech companies – people passionate about tech’s role in enhancing education – should bear in mind?

Steve: As I mentioned earlier, given the world is changing at a faster clip today than ever before and the skills required by organizations are also changing at an accelerated clip, the best investment we can make is to prepare our students from the very start of their formal education experience to be agile, to be capable of changing course and pivoting when circumstances require it. We need to help build platforms so that the learning is done in environments similar to the workplace. We need to reconcile working in a reality where we have more information and stimuli than ever before – how can we find the signal in the noise? Helping students build listening and collaborative strategies is paramount.

We just published a long list of honorees—finalists and winners—for the 2017 EdTech Awards. There’s a lot of talent and innovation there. Any advice to these companies and their leaders? 

The best advice I can give any edtech firm is no different than advice to any startup leader – don’t fall so in love with your product that you stop listening to your employees and customers about ways you can improve it. You can and must always improve today, and most of the time breakthrough ideas will come from people outside your company – so you must continue to listen and encourage input from as many sources as possible. The second bit of advice is to leverage the award PR to help you validate your roadmap and use it to hire more great staff and secure better and larger customers. Don’t consider an award the end game, but rather a nice pat on the back to help give you the encouragement you need to continue to work extremely hard to improve your company and your product.

What are your thoughts about the future of edtech? 

Steve: It’s bright but its going to be challenging as there are a myriad of players and flashy shiny objects, all facing a customer base that is complex, frustrated and impatient.

Anything else you care to add or emphasize? 

Steve: Great questions – thank you for allowing me the opportunity to share my ideas.

Victor Rivero is the Editor-in-Chief of EdTech Digest. Write to: victor@edtechdigest.com

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2017 – Finalists & Winners

EdTech Digest Awards Program 2017 | Shaping Our Future 

2017 EdTech Awards image.pngAny education company is, by the era in which we now live, an edtech company. And today, any educator, learner, or leader is at least a nascent technologist. Billions of dollars have been invested in this future, and we will no doubt invest billions more. Whatever the immediate figures, because of the integral nature of education to humanity’s ultimate survival, the long-term trend will only be up. In honoring cool tools, inspiring leaders, and innovative trendsetters in education, we do so with a sense of excitement, but also a sense of responsibility. Dream-to-reality makers are awesome to behold. But the stakes are high because these honorees are shaping our future. Perhaps more so than in any other sector, in education there are mission-driven companies and there are purpose-driven people. For what mission, and for what purposes committed individuals or dedicated groups of people help advance the rest of us, is what we honor and celebrate here. And with that, here’s to the innovators, leaders, and trendsetters shining bright in one of the greatest fields of human endeavor. And the honorees are:

=COOL TOOL AWARD FINALISTS: (Finalists listed below – winners are marked with *)



new product or service

SMART Learning Suite from SMART Technologies

CSI Private Eye from CSI Literacy

Smartly from Smartly

Sofatutor from Sofatutor

Discovery Education Science Techbook from Discovery Education

Awe Media from Awe Media

Claned from Claned Group

Enrollment Rx

ABCmouse for Schools from Age of Learning

StrongMind Digital Curriculum from StrongMind*

honoree badges.pngPREMIUM PROMO PACKAGE. Get extra help promoting your success! For information about our Premium Promo Package, click here and write in the subject line: PREMIUM PKG

product or service

Top Hat from Top Hat

Flipgrid from Flipgrid, Inc.*

Newsela from Newsela

E-rate Manager from Funds For Learning

Renaissance Accelerated Reader from Renaissance

Woot Math from Woot Math

iTutor from iTutor Group

Makey Makey Invention Kit from Makey Makey

DreamBox Learning from DreamBox Learning

Osmo from Tangible Play

academic gaming solution

CodeCombat from CodeCombat

Sokikom from Sokikom

ClassCraft from Classcraft Studios*

Matific from Slate Science

Grand Canyon Expedition from Brett E Shelton

Writing Games from Toolwire

Triseum Games from Triseum

Prodigy Math Game from Prodigy


Exotrex Science Adventure Game from Dig-It! Games

assessment solution

FastBridge Learning*


Learnosity from Learnosity

Renaissance Star 360

Lumos StepUp from Lumos Learning

TAO from Open Assessment Technologies

Sapling Learning


Remark Test Grading Cloud Edition

CLASS Online Assessment and Plan

hardware solution

ViewSonic CDE7061T Interactive Flat

Belkin Air Shield Always On Protective

zSpace Virtual Reality Learning Lab*

ActivPanel from Promethean

RICOH PJ WX415NI ultra short throw projector

collaboration solution

SMART Learning Suite from SMART Technologies


HMH Marketplace

eBackpack LMS v4

Nureva Span visual collaboration system


Explain Everything




communication solution

Netmedia Parents Evening Booking

Blackboard Community Engagement



Gather Education

FlexCat from Lightspeed Technologies


Bloomz App from Bloomz


360 Alumni from 360 Alumni*

content provider solution

mozaBook from Mozaik Education


Shmoop from Shmoop


Kids Discover Online


Creation Crate


Unlock by FLVS


arts, music, creative

iZotope Pro Audio Essentials


Digital Theatre Plus

CoSpaces from Delightex

Travels with Music

district data solution

DataSense from Authentica Solutions*

Otus LMS from Otus


Global PD from Solution Tree


Autodesk Sketchbook for Education

Education Data Solutions

IO Education

Achieve 3000 Leadership Edition

MAP Measures of Academic Progress

e-learning, blended learning or flipped solution


mozaBook from Mozaik Education


IXL Learning

Blackboard Personalized Learning


DreamBox Learning from DreamBox Learning

PBS Learning Media from PBS



emerging technology solution

Fulcrum Labs

Boxlight Labdisc*

Full Measure Education


HumaGram from Promethean


Snowflake MultiTeach


Modest Tree Media

3Doodler from 3Doodler

higher education learning solution

Top Hat from Top Hat*

Bridge U

Masters and DoctoralNet


SafeColleges Online from Scenario Learning

StepWise from Accuplacer

REEF Education by i>clicker

MyLab from Pearson



workforce skills or corporate training solution

Fulcrum Labs

University Beyond

Event Leadership Institute

Nepris from Nepris*

Salesforce Trailhead

Bridge from Instructure

Grovo from Grovo




IT networking connectivity / access solution

vCloudPoint zero client



Mojo Enforce

Aruba ClearPass*

learning management system


Edsby from Edsby

eBackpack LMS v4

Joomla LMS


Canvas from Instructure*

Jupiter iO by Jupiter Ed

Docebo from Docebo

D2L Brightspace

Motivis Learning

mobile (device) solution

iC30 Cart by LocknCharge

Vernier’s Graphical Analysis for Chrome

REEF Education by i>clicker

Kensington AC12 Security Charging


mobile app (early childhood/elem)

eSchoolPLUS Family App

Nancy Drew: Codes & Clues

Curious World

DragonBox Numbers app from WeWantToKnow*

Waterford iPad app from Waterford Institute

mobile app (middle and high school)

Autodesk Tinkercad*


IXL app from IXL



mobile app (postsecondary)


Myday by Collabco

Bb Student




language learning solution

Voxy from Voxy*


Essential Spanish Vocabulary Flashcards

Middlebury Interactive Languages from Middlebury Interactive


parent/student solution

Blackboard Mobile Communications

Edsby from Edsby

eBackpack for Parents



Learning Coach Central


IO Education

FreshGrade from FreshGrade

Jupiter IO by Jupiter Ed

presentation solution

ViewSonic ViewSync 3 Wireless Presentation Gateway

Epson DC-21 Document Camera

ClassFlow Desktop from Promethean

Maestro SIS by BocaVox


professional development learning solution


Global PD from Solution Tree

Edthena from Edthena

Silverback Learning Solutions

Whetstone Education*



Eduplanet 21

PBS Teacherline

ASCD myTeacherSource 

classroom management solution for teachers

Top Hat

ClassInsights from WebAssign*



ClassFlow Desktop from Promethean


Bloomz App from Bloomz

Carrot Rewards

Jupiter IO by Jupiter Ed

Kickboard from Kickboard for Teachers

security/privacy solution

BrightBytes Digital Privacy, Safety & Security*


Cisco Stealthwatch

DataSense from Authentica Solutions

research, reference, or resource solution

ABC-CLIO Solutions Database from ABC-CLIO*

Newseum ED

Defined Learning

Pearson Writer

Smithsonian Learning Lab

STEM solution



Defined STEM

Nepris from Nepris

Bring Science Alive!

Through My Window

Elesapiens Science & Fun

Amplify Science


Cengage: MindTap for Mathematics

personalized learning solution

Fulcrum Labs

IXL Learning

Silverback Learning Solutions*

Zoomi Inc


DreamBox Learning

Expertise Management for Corporate Professionals

Learning Curve



special needs solution

Kurzweil 3000

SMART Technologies

Rethink First

Fast ForWord

Clicker Communicator

Capti Voice*

MAP Measures of Academic Progress

Skills for Autism by SKILLS Global

Pathfinder Health Innovations




iSpire from School Specialty

Standard for Success

Square Panda*


EdCast from EdCast


Blackboard Planner




=LEADERSHIP AWARD FINALISTS: (Finalists listed below – winners are marked with *)


edupreneurs, startups

Michal Borkowski

Stanley Watts

Alefiya Bhatia

Greg Davies

David Blake

Carol Barash

Idit Harel

Steve Wandler and Lane Merrifield*

Elad Shoushan

Johanna Wetmore


Bill Goodwyn

Matthew Pittinsky

Paul Zane Pilzer*

Sam Chaudhary

Jack Lynch

Carol Ribeiro

Eric Yang

Saki Dodelson

Phyllis Lockett

Tom Davidson

school leader

Sylvain Kalache and Julien Barbier*

Barbara Nesbitt

Stu Keroff

Matt Renwick

Brad Currie

Bethany Petty

Joshua Clemmer and Michael Burke

Anna Cutaia-Leonard

Zachary Leonard

Nancy Foote

Darryl Adams


Matthew Ohlson

Alan Katzman

George Perreault

Patricia Hoge

Chad Lewis

Chris Jagers

Mark Breen

Jessie Woolley-Wilson*

Joe Ross

Damian Creamer

global leader

Kelli Campbell

Jerry Huang*

Elad Shoushan

John Baker

Donna Stoering and Andy Anderson


Charlene Blohm

John Harrington

Christopher J. Nesi

Jon Corippo

Pam Lloyd*

PR firm/publicist

J Harrison PR Group*

Communications Strategy Group

C Blohm & Associates

PR with Panache

L Wolfe Communications


Jay Silver

Matthew Schnittman*

Andre Thomas*

Tyson J. Smith

Michael Moody and Jason Stricker

=TRENDSETTER AWARD FINALISTS: (Finalists listed below – winners are marked with *)


product or service setting a trend



Discovery Education’s Techbook series




OER Commons*

Teachers Pay Teachers



leader setting a trend

Joe Catania

Donna Williamson*

William Bushaw

Len Scrogan

Zac Leonard, Dan Koch, and Alex Stubenbort


Curriculum Associates



The BLE Group

Open English

Perspectives for a Diverse America

Cirkled In

European Leadership University

PeopleAdmin’s Inspired2Educate

Blockchain Certificates


Congratulations to all finalists! Finalists are listed above; winners are marked with an asterisk (*). Honoree badges are above and larger file versions are available here. Also, ask us about our promotional packages to help you in celebrating your success and getting the word out about your efforts; just click here and write: PREMIUM PKG in the subject line. 

* * *

For a reminder notification about the next awards program opening, click here and be sure to include: REMINDER 2018 in the subject line. We will contact you at a later date with more information closer to opening. For a look at past instructions which will be out of date but may assist in planning, click here.

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