Edtech Tools for 2012

Don't know if you've had a chance to watch the video or read the 2012 Annual Letter from Bill Gates or not, but in the event you didn't read it in it's entirety, you may have missed what he has to say about some Edtech tools that are making a difference in today's classrooms.  I've embedded the video and provided a portion of his letter to give you Bill's take on Edtech and to share links to some of the resources he references that you may not be familiar with.  It's definitely worth a look.

Social networking is one of the most promising areas, because it helps teachers and students connect in ways that naturally augment what’s going on in the classroom. Services that use social networking, like Edmodo, are really starting to take off because teachers can manage all aspects of the classroom using a platform with which most people are comfortable.
I’m also excited to see more and more schools “flip” the classroom so that passive activities like lectures are done outside of class and in-class time is used for more collaborative and personal interactions between students and teachers. Khan Academy is a great example of a free resource that any teacher can use to take full advantage of class time and make sure all students advance at their own pace.
Great work is also being done by companies that are thinking beyond simply digitizing textbooks (is this a shot at Steve Jobs and Apple???). CK-12 Foundation, Udemy, and Ednovo have great teacher- and community–generated content. A simple example of how powerful the community can be in this area is TeachersPayTeachers, a marketplace that facilitates the sharing and exchanging of lesson plans and other materials developed by teachers themselves.
We’re also just starting to see how impactful gaming can be in an educational context. MangaHigh and Grockit are successfully delivering fun, competitive, game-based lessons that drive greater engagement and understanding. Zoran Popović, at University of Washington’s Center for Game Science, is taking this even further through some amazing work creating games that automatically adapt to each student’s unique needs based on their interactions with the computer.
Many of these new tools and services have the added benefit of providing amazing visibility into how each individual student is progressing, and generating lots of useful data that teachers can use to improve their own effectiveness.
But how do most teachers figure out what’s available and right for them? There’s not yet a good answer to this question. Good technologies remain unused, and teachers spend too much of their own time and money. That’s why I’m launching a project this year to build an online service that helps educators easily discover and learn how to use these new tools and resources.  

I think there’s no limit to what a teacher with the right tools and information can do. 

Bill's Annual Letter: Good News and a Challenge from The Gates Notes on Vimeo.

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