Innovation Takes Center Stage

Nine startups selected for Launch Pad at ET4Online.

GUEST COLUMN | by Karen Pedersen

CREDIT ET4OnlineWhen the Online Learning Consortium (OLC) and MERLOT kick off their 8th Annual Emerging Technologies for Online Learning International Symposium (ET4Online) next week, in Dallas, innovation will be center stage. Online education practitioners will have the chance to experience the latest in EdTech, with hands-on workshops and a range of sessions highlighting emerging practices and practical applications of technology in higher education by educational institutions around the world.

Startups on the Launch Pad

Innovation will be evident among the nine startups that have been selected to participate in Launch Pad, a program at ET4Online that showcases qualifying EdTech startups focused on improving higher education. Each of these solutions was vetted by a dedicated group of professionals on the Launch Pad Sub-Committee.

Here’s a sneak peek at the 2015 Launch Pad startups.

7 Gen Games Logo7 Generation Games creates virtual worlds where players solve increasingly difficult problems in computation, data analysis and statistics concepts.

Players receive immediate feedback with reinforcement in the form of prizes earned for correct answers. The program analyzes incorrect answers and routes the player to appropriate instructional content. Instructional methods offer options of online games, quizzes, videos, animation and virtual manipulatives. Instructors receive reports on individual and class performance, with links to recommended online examples, videos and downloadable resources. Currently for Mac and Windows with native iPhone/iPad app coming this fall.

web_horizontal_blueDropThought offers a platform for capturing formative feedback from students on their learning and experience per assignment or content item throughout the term/semester. The platform is free for instructors, students, and institutions.

GoReact LogoGoReact is a cloud-based video software for providing time-coded feedback, grading and critique of speeches, presentations, lessons and performances.

Think of it like game film for communicators. Courses previously thought to require in-person instruction, like public speaking or ASL, can now be effectively taught online. With asynchronous video, students report a stronger connection with instructors—even in courses with huge numbers of students. Teachers respond with comments like, “students improved more in one week than they usually do in an entire semester.”

junction-logo-web-transparent-largeJunction curates the best online resources – videos, assessments, readings, flash cards, simulations and more – wrapping them into an intuitive, engaging course experience perfect for flipped and hybrid courses. It saves instructors time, students both time and money, while delivering an affordable, interactive learning experience.

logo_0Matific helps students, teachers, and schools reach their highest potential in Math using advanced technology and constructive, hands-on pedagogy. It offers a portfolio of educational apps that support the math curriculum at elementary schools, while allowing students to develop, deeply understand, and experience hands-on conceptual learning. The product was designed to engage students through both practicing and learning math fundamentals. Matific has versions created for the educator and consumer market, aimed to support math instruction according to the local curriculum and is available in more than 9 languages. It is available through a browser, native Android and iPad apps.

notebowl-master-logoNoteBowl is a social learning platform for higher education that simplifies classroom communication and organization. It gives students, professors and administrators one location where they can access information, communicate with each other and engage with their university.

SmashFact_Logo_WebSmash Fact is an easy-to-use online tool for creating custom, study apps for students’ devices. Created with faculty and instructional technologists in mind, the website allows teachers to add text questions, images and audio to activities designed to engage students anywhere they want to study. Students use Smash Fact to collaborate and try to stump each other by using the tool’s Google Docs template. Instructors can track student progress as they play and export results to a gradebook. Since its release a year ago, SmashFact has been adopted by faculty at over 140 schools and universities across the U.S. and Canada.

LOGO  YELLOWDIG  smallerYellowdig is a SaaS platform that helps increase instructor and student engagement in and beyond the classroom – from freshman orientation through to career services and into active alumni networks following graduation. This low-cost private social network is specifically designed for, and collaboratively developed by, higher education institutions, helping them to transform the faculty/student learning relationship. It makes curating, sharing, enriching, and creating course-relevant content across instructor and students easy and fun. Yellowdig has completed software pilots in several top universities, including MIT, Wharton School, and Columbia Business School.

ZAPTION_LOGOZaption’s publishing platform turns passive video into active learning experiences. Teachers, trainers, and students use Zaption’s intuitive authoring tools to build their own interactive video lessons by quickly adding images, text, quiz questions and discussions to existing videos from YouTube, Vimeo, and private video libraries. These interactive “learning tours” are privately shared via a simple link or embedded in any learning management system. Zaption’s award-winning Tour Analytics track all learner activity so instructors get immediate, actionable data to improve instruction and personalize learning. Zaption works in all major browsers and has a native app for iPhones and iPads.

For higher education practitioners who are evaluating technologies for their online learning programs, ET4Online is a great opportunity to get hands-on experience with the latest solutions, platforms, and services. It also provides a chance to inform product development decisions through direct conversations with entrepreneurs and developers. It is through these conversations that we realize a more robust ecosystem for learning innovation. This will be my first ET4Online conference as OLC’s CKO, and I am very much looking forward to becoming immersed in the exciting tech innovations that will be featured throughout our three days in Dallas.

The OLC/MERLOT Emerging Technologies for Online Learning Symposium (ET4Online) takes place April 22-24, in Dallas. If you are unable to make it to Dallas, OLC is offering a virtual pass that features 70-plus sessions live-streamed (and recorded for later viewing) for 50 percent off through April 21, 2015. Details are available here.

Karen Pedersen, Ph.D., is Chief Knowledge Officer for the Online Learning Consortium, where she gathers, curates and leverages OLC’s intellectual capital to create and enhance services and resources provided to members and the broader OLC community. Prior to joining OLC, Dr. Pedersen served as the associate vice president for Extended Campuses at Northern Arizona University. She previously served as vice president for Professional Studies at Southwestern College (Kansas), where she was responsible for envisioning and building an online program from the ground up and launching over 25 innovative online majors/degrees.

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