By Mary Fineday
Educational technology has become a way of life in the classroom, and students are reaping the rewards. A recent educational study reported by OnlineEducation.net notes that purchasing e-textbooks can save students up to 40 percent as compared to hardback textbooks, and 75 percent of students who used iPads reported an improved learning experience. Schools benefit as well, both by saving on the costs of traditional education — including textbook printing and building maintenance — and by offering plugged-in students an education in their preferred medium.
Three educational technology companies are changing the way students go to class, search for resources and earn an education. Take a look at our top picks and find out how they fit into your edtech landscape.
If you’re new to education technology, you may just be getting a sense of just how many applications, startups and resources there really are. EdSurge is an independent information resource that helps you sift through the noise. The community serves education technology professionals with intensive product reports on products like eSpark, Khan Academy, Success Maker and Think Through Math. Developers are welcome to check out reviews of their own products and others, learning what works and what doesn’t in the community.
In addition to product reviews, EdSurge aggregates education technology events nationwide, and offers educators a chance to try their hand at reviews. As a result, the site is swiftly becoming the go-to source for unbiased educational technology reviews. From there, educators and instructional tech managers can make an informed decision on where to spend their money on technology resources. Smarter spending plus efficient technology means well-served students and better budget management.
A recent Kelsey Group Study reports that a whopping 97 percent of consumers used an online search engine when shopping for a product or service. With such a huge amount of content online, the makers of Noodle found a need: a trustworthy, targeted search site for students from all stages of education. Noodle users can check out prime kindergartens nearby as easily as they can determine the best anthropology grad school for their needs and preferences. Prospective business school students can find helpful guides to MBA programs. Over 100,000 tutors and programs are available, plus 350,000 interactive learning materials.
The site is also rolling out a blog and advice section and an agency program to further their reach. Though Noodle is currently in its beta stage, it’s shaping up to be one of the most powerful education search programs on the web. It’s why Forbes called Noodle one of the greatest industry-disrupting startups of 2012.
Any educational institution hoping to make the move into high-tech course offerings may run into this problem: You’ve got instructors ready to teach, great course content ready for students, but no way to bridge the gap between traditional and online education. That’s where 2U comes in. Founded by a team of education veterans, the company offers a panel of experts on making the online transition.
The company has taken charge of the online coursework at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the University of Southern California, Georgetown University and more. It’s one of the most-funded educational technology startups in the United States, and it’s a smart, established choice for future online education leaders.
Educational technology has moved past basic building blocks. To succeed in the years to come, companies need to serve as powerful, one-stop shops. For example, online teaching resources can help teachers prepare for new technology by educating the future educators on salaries and pointing them towards different schools. The best edtech companies double as community builders with the goal of bringing their impact offline, to students and teachers everywhere.
About the author:
Mary Fineday is a freelance writer who writes for online and print publications including OnlineSchools.com. She has worked in teaching, consulting, reporting and freelance editing. Her professional interests include organizational strategies, leadership and management writing, and business education. She lives in Los Angeles.