The EdTech Awards – Accepting Your Entries

Program spotlights cool tools, leaders, and trendsetters in education and technology.

enter-the-edtech-awardsThe nomination period for the 7th annual EdTech Awards honoring cool tools, inspiring leaders, and innovative trendsetters in the education and technology, or “edtech” sector, is still open for entries. They are due on Friday, September 30, 2016 – which is coming right up. However, entry is quick and easy and worth the effort. The distinguished awards program features edtech’s best and brightest products and people. Past winners include Discovery Education, zSpace, Scholastic, DreamBox, Nearpod, EdCast, Bloomz, WebAssign, FreshGrade, Languagenut, Edthena, Education Elements, Buncee, Curriculum Associates, and many others.

We’re looking for products and people that represent effective, workable solutions, whether realized or potential; established or startup, education leaders and solutions providers.

This year’s program features nearly 50 categories to enter, including best:

  • New Product or Service
  • Mobile Solution
  • Personalized Learning Solution
  • Academic Gaming Solution
  • Emerging Technology Solution
  • Professional Development Solution
  • Higher Education Learning Solution
  • Workforce Skills Solution
  • Product or Service Setting a Trend
  • Leader Setting a Trend
  • And more.

“As a new startup, it was an honor to be included alongside leading educational companies that have been around for much longer than us,” says Melissa Davis, co-founder and CEO of GoEnnounce. “Immediately after being recognized as a finalist, we were targeted by VC investors around the country congratulating us and wanting to know more about the company. The awards also assist in providing us instant credibility as we approach districts and educators with our new digital citizenship curriculum.”

Stephen Wakefield is Vice President of Public Affairs for Discovery Education. “The EdTech Awards annually celebrates the people and services that are truly transforming teaching and learning,” he says.“Recognition by the EdTech Awards’ esteemed panel of judges is a clear indication of your organization’s impact on supporting the success of all learners.”

“Technology is opening the door to a renaissance in education,” says Victor Rivero, who oversees the program as Editor-in-Chief of EdTech Digest.“Sifting through to find the real gems of edtech, we’re looking to inspire more of a good thing. There’s a lot of talent and quality out there, and we look forward to showcasing it. We’re looking for products and people that represent effective, workable solutions, whether realized or potential; established or startup, education leaders and solutions providers. A lot of our winners are setting the pace, or pioneering new areas, and doing big things. The stakes are high; these honorees are shaping our future.”

The program is comprised of the Cool Tool, Trendsetter and Leadership Awards. All entries fall into a subcategory under one of these three main categories. Cool Tool awards recognize new, emerging and established technology solutions for education; the Trendsetter awards include notable people or products shaping the space, and the EdTech Leadership awards recognize outstanding forward-thinking contributions to learning and technology. A distinguished panel of industry influencers and veterans will conduct this year’s evaluation proceedings.

“The EdTech Awards helps our company gain recognition in the crowded education industry,” says Alex Sundali, Director of Communications for Silverback Learning Solutions. “As we add new features, more categories become available for us to compete in and we gain more followers with the support of announcements and recognitions from the program. It’s great for smaller companies because the cost of entry is low and there are no hidden fees or membership requirements.”

“We’re excited to have a closer look at the tools, trendsetters and leaders driving education forward,” says Rivero. A full list of last year’s award finalists and winners can be found here. For an entry form and full details, click here to enter this year’s EdTech Awards.

Entry is quick and easy, enter now.

The EdTech Awards program honors products and people in and around education for outstanding contributions in transforming education through technology to enrich the lives of learners everywhere. Featuring edtech’s best and brightest, the annual recognition program shines a spotlight on cool tools, inspiring leaders, and innovative trendsetters helping millions of students, teachers, parents, administrators and others in K-12, higher education, workforce training, and lifelong learning.


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Cool Tool | WriteReader

credit-writereaderHere’s a cool tool scientifically designed to teach children grades K-3 to read by helping them write digital books. It motivates and strengthens early literacy skills by fostering creativity, encouraging children to become young authors. The students can create, share and publish their digital books and share them with friends and family. By using WriteReader, students can research a specific topic, i.e., animals. Then, they can write sentences to show their research on the characteristics of that animal. Afterward, they can insert photos or drawings demonstrating that they have understood those characteristics. Students get instant feedback from a teacher or parent. Writing a corrected version below, students are encouraged to write without hesitation, iterate naturally, and thus improve their writing. Teachers can also get inspired with Common Core aligned lesson plans. Free so far, it takes less than a minute to set up a class for teachers. Students log in with a class code shared by the teacher. Perfect for primary schools and home users (K-4), accessible on Chrome books and iPads. Learn more.

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Cool Tool | Letters to the Next President 2.0

credit-letters2presidentDesigned to engage teenagers in the upcoming election, Letters to the Next President 2.0 (L2P 2.0) provides a platform for students to voice their opinions about issues that matter to them. Created by teachers and jointly hosted by PBS member station KQED and the National Writing Project, L2P 2.0 publishes a diverse range of letters penned by students across the nation. Students connect with each other about topics such as immigration policy, the environment, health care and more. Teachers and mentors register for L2P 2.0 and then invite students to begin developing written letters or multimedia content. In addition to empowering students to become productive and active citizens, L2P 2.0 aims to foster research, writing and media skills. Students can make submissions through November 8, and all published letters will remain visible to the public through the president’s first 100 days in office at the beginning of 2017. Learn more.

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You’re Hired!

In closing the skills gap, building a LinkedIn for the trades.

GUEST COLUMN | by Michael Colonnese

credit-workamericaEmployers commonly complain about the lack of skilled workers, particularly in manufacturing. But what if companies are looking in the wrong place? To solve the skills gap, we have to fix how employers search for candidates, and how vocational students search for employment.

I have seen this disconnect from all sides: working with recruiters of both local and large employers like Vulcan Materials and Covenant Transport; inside vocational colleges like TCAT Nashville with a first-hand view of how admin and career services operate; and by spending significant time meeting with students across the country to understand the community college and vocational/CTE demographic.

Here’s how it typically works: students in the trades primarily find their first job through their instructor. Instructors have on average 3-5 very close relationships with local employers that they know will hire recent graduates. Afterwards, these newly minted workers find their second, third, and fourth jobs by word of mouth from colleagues, friends, and family. This pattern is especially prevalent in the manufacturing, logistics, and allied health sectors where birds of a feather flock together.

When employers contact students while they’re still in school, it reduces the likelihood of a gap between education and employment—and helps solve our nation’s skills gap.

Now contrast this to how employers recruit. Most HR departments search for candidates online by posting jobs on Indeed, CareerBuilder, and Snagajob—or outsourcing that work to staffing firms. With the exception of a few large employers, companies don’t typically reach out to schools.

Last year, we visited a nationwide staffing firm that could not find the talent they needed. Right across the street was a highly respected community college. When we inquired about their relationship, the staffing office managers admitted to never having ventured over to reach out to students directly!

As a result, employers search online for candidates who are not typically online for the purpose of finding a job. Everyone is trying to solve this. Over the past few months, we’ve witnessed an explosion in the number of schools, state labor departments, industry associations, and credentialing agencies building their own registries and job boards.

But there is a problem with this approach. First, employers aren’t likely to search through hundreds of different websites, each with its own niche focus. That’s why they keep using the big guys like Indeed and Monster, despite diminishing returns. Second, having all these different websites and options is overwhelming and downright intimidating to students, a demographic not used to creating a professional online presence!

Over a decade ago, LinkedIn solved this very same problem for white-collar (managers, directors, VP’s C-suite) employees by creating a single site where everyone participates. However, LinkedIn is directed at a population that is used to sitting behind a desk, has laptops with wifi accessibility, and has full data plans for web surfing on smart phones.

That’s why our company created a site dedicated to the trades worker. We used our extensive experience with this demographic to understand the best way to engage them in a simple and easy to use platform, highlighting their schooling and industry credentials without the intimidation of asking for references and portfolios of work.

The platform is free for job seekers and schools. We’ve built in special features designed for CTE/WFD students, including a messaging system where recruiters send inquiries through our site that appear as a text message to candidates. We all know that emailing and logging into messaging sites isn’t the best way to reach a millennial, so why not communicate with them the way they prefer? Career services departments remain in the loop with alerts that inform them students are being engaged by employers, so that they can coordinate resume writing support and mock interviews.

Our Smart Job Feed geo-tags a job seeker’s location and their credential and only display jobs that they qualify for—aggregated from across the internet—eliminating their need to visit multiple sites. Some of our school partners have incorporated this tool into their employment readiness training.

Since our launch in 2013, we have partnered with dozens of community colleges and technical schools. And we are one of five companies in the inaugural cohort of Michelson Runway, an initiative of the Michelson 20MM Foundation. Supported by Dr. Gary Michelson, the program is the first social impact accelerator focused on innovations in higher education and workforce development.

From the beginning, our goal has been to create a national site that brings employers, job seekers, and schools together to seamlessly communicate. When employers contact students while they’re still in school, it reduces the likelihood of a gap between education and employment—and helps solve our nation’s skills gap.

Michael Colonnese is CEO and co-founder of WorkAmerica. For more information, visit or email

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Cool Tool | Wonders 2017 from McGraw-Hill

credit-mcgraw-hill-wondersLearning science company McGraw-Hill Education recently launched Wonders 2017, a newly redesigned and expanded suite of English Language Arts (ELA) solutions for the 2016-2017 school year. It offers the latest research-based instruction with new digital tools, as well as new programs focused on English Language Learners (ELLs) and Spanish Language Arts. New features include an innovative Data Dashboard, which makes student data instantly available and actionable for teachers, offering real-time recommendations for grouping students and re-teaching materials. Administrators also can track students’ progress and mastery of skills and standards at the school, class or individual level. The suite includes four targeted programs featuring engaging multimedia resources:

  • Wonders, a core K-6 ELA program
  • Wonders for English Learners, a fully connected English Language Learners (ELL) instructional program
  • Maravillas, a fully equitable Spanish Language Arts program for parallel, dual-immersion instruction
  • WonderWorks, a fully connected intervention support program.

Every feature of the core program is also reflected in Wonders for English Learners, Maravillas and WonderWorks, and the full curriculums for each of the programs run parallel to each other, ensuring all students have equity of access to the same core content and subject-area knowledge. Learn more.

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