12 Innovative Ed Tech Companies
At the SIIA Ed Tech Industry Summit (May 3 to 5, 2009), 12 products were showcased as innovative new products in education.
· Adobe Flash Catalyst
· ArchieMD: Virtual Autopsy Interactive 3D Platform
· ClassLink Inquiry
· Kidos Computer
· Math Learning Exchange
· MixedInk Collaborative Writing Tool
· Filament Games Plex Labs
· Child’sMind Publishing Predictive Assessment of Reading
· Quantum Learning SkateKids Online
· Smarthinking Straighterline
· EdWeb Professional Networking
· Grade Cam Corporation assessment scoring
These were chosen from over 30 nominees, and here is a quick summary of the 12. One caveat: we are and/or have worked with three of these companies: ArchieMD, ClassLink, and Quantum Learning. We try to pick companies that we think have exciting products and who are fun to work with.
Adobe Flash Catalyst
This is a content creation system. Adobe says that it allows non technical people to create interactive Flash interfaces. We did not actually get to see Adobe Catalyst at work. Adobe offers AIR, Catalyst, and Flex for developers. I’d love to hear from people with experience with Catalyst. Adobe Flash Catalyst won the Most Likely to Succeed award at the Innovation Showcase.
ArchieMD: Virtual Autopsy Interactive 3D Platform.
ArchieMD has built a 3D environment for creating virtual labs using the human body and human anatomical systems. This environment can be used by large school systems or software publishers to allow students to conduct procedures on virtual patients. They showed one example at the SIIA conference, which was one of six virtual autopsies they developed for a healthcare publisher. In this particular instance, a person had been shot. The student had to solve what actually killed the patient, and use geometry principles to determine where the shot came from.
Virtual patients or virtual experiments can be built for healthcare applications or a variety of courses such as nursing, forensics, anatomy, and biology.
Inquiry is a tool that allows schools to determine what software and what computers are being used, by what students and by what classes. The tool can also cross reference gradebook information to determine if usage can be correlated with student or classroom performance.
Kidos Computer is building a way to set up a protected computer environment for kids along with a store for educational and safe applications. They are seeking to expand relationships with education and software publishers.
Math Learning Exchange
Math Learning Exchange is a not-for-profit startup seeking to build a community where teachers can share techniques, applications, and tips for math instruction. They are seeking sponsors and free content.
One interesting point, the founder was the first person who advertised prescription drugs to consumers with television commercials for Clariton. As he said, it seemed like a good idea at the time.
MixedInk Collaborative Writing Tool
MixedInk is a free classroom tool that allows kids to write by ripping, reusing, and rating. This tool is truly in the spirit of the social and collaborative Web.
Teachers give the students a writing assignment, and they can write, edit, amend, and borrow from what others write. Proper credit is given for all information copied, so students learn about netiquette as they learn to work in groups and improve their writing. MixedInk was runner up for the Most Innovative Learning Tool award.
Filament Games Plex Labs
Plex Labs is in the startup phase of creating virtual labs. These will further the work of the Jason Project.
Child’sMind Predictive Assessment of Reading (PAR)
PAR is based on research from Wake Forest University School of Medicine on the subtasks necessary for learning how to read and the potential problems during the path to reading proficiency. The test is delivered via paper, can be scored in under 15 minutes, and yields detailed feedback about the specific skills that a reader lacks, for example vocabulary, ability to recognize letters, etc. Research shows that this test is more accurate than tests currently used to assess reading problems.
Quantum Learning Skatekids
Skatekids is a game that teaches kids to read. The key to a good education game is that a) kids need to like it and b) kids need to learn. This game was developed by avowed gamers, and the lead designer has a PhD in cognitive psychology. The program has been tested in schools for the past three years, and is just starting to be distributed nationally. SkateKids won the SIIA Innovation Showcase award for Most Innovative Learning Tool.
Straighterline is a series of courses that allow students to pursue college credit online for “an incredibly low cost”. They are looking for institutional partners.
edWeb is a forum for educators to discuss and collaborate on education issues. It is organized around communities that offer discussions on different topics, like assessment, teaching chemistry, or collaborative learning. It turns out that a high proportion of the members are actually principals and superintendents.
GradeCam uses ingenious image analysis software so that teachers can offer self grading multiple choice assessments for students. Teachers print out a bubble answer sheet for students, who then take the assessment, go to any scanner, camera, or document camera (like the Elmo), pass the answer sheet, and have their assessment automatically scored. Grades can be passed on to virtually any gradebook software, and students can be provided feedback. Assessments can be electronically assembled from the question banks that come with most textbooks.