By Dennis Pierce
Twice a year, the Education Technology Industry Network (ETIN)—the education division of the Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA)—offers an “Innovation Incubator Program,” in which it identifies and supports edtech entrepreneurs who show potential.
Program participants receive one-on-one mentorship from established edtech companies. For educators, the program offers a glimpse at what ETIN believes are some of the most promising new edtech apps and tools.
The next Innovation Incubator Program will be held at SIIA’s 2015 Education Business Forum in New York City in December, and ETIN has announced the finalists for the program. Here are some of the finalists that have products that stand out.
ASD Reading is a language and literacy program for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), including those who are nonverbal. Using graphics, audio, and animation to reinforce meaning, the program provides customized instruction that adapts to each child’s specific skills and needs, the company says—systematically assessing a child’s skills and overcoming error patterns and difficulties.
CatchOn enables K-12 leaders to make data-driven decisions that enhance their 1:1 tablet and Chromebook programs, with simple dashboards providing insights into thousands of apps used in their own district and beyond. CatchOn helps you monitor app downloads and usage across your district and receive alerts regarding questionable activity, the company says—but it also lets you see which apps are being used in other classrooms nationwide and how effective they are, so you don’t have to test hundreds of apps yourself to find the best ones.
Fantasy Geopolitics is like “fantasy football for social studies,” the company says. It’s a social learning game in which students choose the countries they think will be the most active in world news. Each week, points are assigned to countries based on how extensively they’re covered in the New York Times and featured in the GDELT Project. Students can track how their scores compare with other students and can “trade” countries, just as in fantasy football—and in the course of following their countries, they learn about key world events.
LaunchGen aims to inspire the next generation of innovators and risk-takers by creating competition-based learning opportunities for students. It’s a turnkey service that helps schools launch and run student business competition programs, teaching students to plan and pitch their business ideas and think like entrepreneurs.
Mathspace is an adaptive learning app that enables all students to have a math tutor at their side, the company says—giving students real-time feedback on their work. Students input all of their math work on a mobile device, writing with their finger or a stylus. Mathspace digitizes their input and flags any errors, allowing students to self-correct their work as they go. It also provides help on demand with specific, relevant hints and videos to assist students if they get stuck (without revealing the answer).
Prepmagic is a simulation-based science assessment tool that helps students prepare for the ACT Science exam, as well as state and local science tests. Using Prepmagic’s real-world STEM scenarios and its intuitive quiz builder, teachers can easily author questions and create engaging quizzes that help students build core scientific reasoning skills, such as data interpretation, analytical reasoning, critical thinking, and problem solving.
The Zumo Learning System, from Zyrobotics Inc., combines a physical manipulative with accessible STEM education apps to support the inclusion of special-needs children into the K-3 classroom environment. The system combines a 7-inch tablet, educational games, and a “wireless smart toy” named Zumo to create an engaging and educational experience for children. By pressing Zumo’s buttons, apps respond to the child’s input on the tablet screen.
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