So, on we go with number 1 - vendors.
My first ISTE was in San Antonio last year. I was practically gobsmacked by the amount of vendors all over the expo hall. From running to meet Moby with @jedipadmaster to listening to a spiel about Moodle Rooms, most of my interactions with vendors was a positive experience...until I was turned off by one vendor who a. wanted you to pay for their product and b. had no Android app at the moment.
I am a droid but I am more partial to like your product if it is not platform specific. Not every student has an iPhone. And as a classroom teacher, I am more likely to use an app if it is free.
After hearing an NPR story upon return from ISTE, I'm not suprised to hear that "schools are a $13 billion global battlefield for makers of technology". (Adrienne Hill, Fighting the Classroom Tech War in Los Angeles)
This post is not a tirade against those who use the education industry to fund business. Our students will have to navigate, adapt, and create the technology of tomorrow. This post is, however, a commendation to some entrepreneurs I met who are in business to help teachers.
Might I propose that by listening to teachers and conforming their product to the feedback given by those "in the trenches", these companies are propelling their product not only for the future of their company, but also for the betterment of future society ?
Here are four companies who were at ISTE, offer a great free app to implement in the classroom, and are open to hearing how you use their product in the classroom.
ClassDojo - a free, detailed and easy to use classroom management tool. One of the best features of this web-based, iOs or Android app is the data it collects for classroom behavior. Students and parents have access to view their individual student's progress. Plus, ClassDojo added a messaging feature so now you can contact parents directly with feedback on their student! It just got a lot easier to have positive interactions with parents on their student's behavior!
Curriculet - this tool is great for annotating literature on a device. Curriculet is web-based. You can set up classes for reading a piece of literature and allow students to annotate and make notes to their literature as well as give assessments of the literature. Some books are already aligned to the Common Core. This is a great free tool for ELA classrooms!
Tackk - a online poster you can create in minutes. Once you access tackk.com, a default poster is created that you can personalize. Anonymous tackks are saved for seven days unless the user adds it to their tackk board. Tackks are great for students because tackks can be made without creating an account. Tackk also syncs with edmodo, so the student can add the tackk to their portfolio once an account is created. I have used tackks for agendas in professional development and one school I work with used a tackk to advertise their yearbook around campus.
Celly - this iOs and Android app provides a platform for connecting with your class. You can schedule messages, remind students of upcoming assessments, or keep in touch with parents during a field trip. Just create a group and invite others to join!
Last year I did see Amy with Blendspace, but I missed her this year. Another great product that is free to teachers and receptive to feedback!
Thank you to the vendors who listen. Thank you to the teachers who give feedback. And, most importantly, thank you to the students who are willing to try something new in the classroom.