Academic journal article T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)

The Journal 2016 Readers' Choice Awards: Our Tech-Savvy Readers Name Their Favorite Technologies in Dozens of Categories, from Flipped Learning Software to Tablets and Convertible Laptops

Academic journal article T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)

The Journal 2016 Readers' Choice Awards: Our Tech-Savvy Readers Name Their Favorite Technologies in Dozens of Categories, from Flipped Learning Software to Tablets and Convertible Laptops

Article excerpt

EDUCATORS AND staff who work in schools and districts are a busy group. When they're not keeping kids on track, communicating with parents or cultivating their own skills, somehow they're expected to stay on top of technology that can help them do all of those jobs better. With that in mind THE Journal offers its second-annual Readers' Choice Awards. We went out to our readership and requested their votes in numerous categories. People told us about their favorite products--from 3D printers to anti-virus to assessment and augmented reality headsets to student information systems to videoconferencing and wireless access points.

The overall results offer a portrait of a changing landscape. Because we told respondents to vote only in those categories where they had real favorites, we could tell which ones also attract the most attention these days. No longer is K-12 focused on the hardware. While categories related to computing devices drew plenty of attention, the real rallies took place this year in the voting on software related to learning--reading, math, learning management and professional development.

K-12 education is shifting away from delivering technology to keep the show running behind the scenes and placing new emphasis on main stage performances: engaging learners in innovative ways to improve student outcomes.

Most Valuable in Your Schools

When we asked people to name the most valuable technology for their school or district in an open-ended question, three names showed up in vote after vote: Lexia, Chromebooks and Edsby, in that order.

As one of many fans reported, platinum winner Lexia's literacy program "is valuable mainly for the students, but it is incredible for the teachers. The teacher database is one of [a] kind. It allows the teacher the ability to pinpoint just what the student needs. The teacher is the 'miracle' worker of the program, and Lexia provides the necessary information to improve student achievement."

Grabbing the gold this year was the Google Chromebook. As one enthusiast summed up, "Because of their affordability, ease of use and setup and integration with [G Suite for Education for Education, formerly Google Apps for Education], these are ideal fits for our cash-strapped districts."

Edsby, which took silver, earned this accolade from a respondent: "It continues to be the heart of our school community online. It has increased the voice of our students, centralized announcements, assignments and document resources and given staff a way to work differently together."

Platinum: Lexia Learning

Gold: Google Chromebooks

Silver: Edsby

Top 10 Favorite Technologies Currently Used

We also asked readers in an open-ended question to share their three favorite technologies they currently use in their capacity as education professionals. We added those choices up, figured out which ones garnered the largest number of votes and ranked them by count. Two companies kept popping up: Apple, for its hardware, and Google, for its software. After those choices, people expressed their affection for interactive whiteboards, literacy education technology company Lexia, and, more broadly, having as many computing devices in the classroom as possible. Multiple companies were named that also showed up as winners in other categories--with two exceptions. Boxlight Mimio sells all products interactive--whiteboards, touch boards, projectors, flat panels, ink capture and software. Edsby offers an online learning management system with data reporting and analytics.

1. All things Apple, most especially iPads, but also MacBooks and iPhones; and all things Google, particularly Apps for Education, Classroom and Drive

2. Interactive whiteboards, particularly from Promethean and Smart

3. Lexia

4. More computers, tablets, desktops and carts

5. Renaissance, especially Star 360 and Accelerated Reading and Math

6. …

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