As back-to-school season nears, there is a host of apps, gadgets and gizmos that will compete to attract the attention of kids, teachers and parents. We rounded up some of the most interesting online educational platforms that claim to transform learning and studying, plus a new federally backed app that aims to improve school air quality.
Green Test Prep
When Anthony-James Green was tutoring students for the SAT and ACT, he had to figure out how to personalize the standardized tests to cater to his clients’ individual needs. So he built an online platform, now called Green Test Prep, which delivers lessons and methods Green taught during his $1,000-an-hour tutoring sessions.
“I initially designed the software as a supplement to my one-on-one tutoring. A lot of time tutoring was being wasted teaching lessons to students” that could easily be shown online, Green told FedScoop. “Rather than charge my client half an hour of time to go through this, they could have studied it on their own and I could work on lessons more particular to them.”
The virtual test prep, which has replaced Green’s job as a tutor, costs about $600. This fall, he is launching a new SAT module to more closely align with the new multidisciplinary exam, in an effort to deepen students’ learning in reading, math and charts. The software will also have a tracker feature for parents to monitor their kids’ progress and practice test scores.
“We’re trying to expand and take it to the point where it’s at the forefront of the industry, synonymous with Kaplan and Princeton Review,” said Green, who is based in New York City.
Green, 28, said the main point for students to understand is their weaknesses.
“They need to figure out what they don’t know, and that gives them a systematic way to conquer those things,” he said.
And there’s a money-back guarantee as well, if kids don’t perform up to their (or their parents’) standards.
More information can be found here.
The School IAQ Assessment app
Students and teachers spend a great deal of time in school, but sometimes the buildings are not up to snuff — they are old and deteriorating, and repairs don’t get made in a timely fashion. That’s why the Environmental Protection Agency launched a new mobile app to test indoor air quality to protect their health.
“Kids learn best in a healthy school environment,” said Janet McCabe, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. “This app puts a powerful tool in the hands of people at the state, district and school level to protect children’s health.”
The app will help schools test their ventilation, cleaning and maintenance, environmental asthma triggers, radon and pest management. It can also replace existing air quality control programs already in place in schools, according to officials.
Visit the app’s Web page to learn more.
The anonymous social media app for iOS and Android has stirred up a well of controversy, but as one of the 10 most downloaded apps from Apple, it’s not going away anytime soon.
The app lets unidentified users, mostly college students, create and see “yaks” within a 10-mile radius; they can also respond to and down-vote or up-vote the anonymous messages. It can be seen as a bullying and gossip mill for university-aged students, and has prompted a Change.org petition to have it taken down.
But supporters say the chatter is often innocuous, and the app allows youth to air concerns or thoughts without fear of judgment. It also provides a sympathetic community and makeshift virtual vigil in cases of tragedies.
The app has even become “an unlikely safe space,” NPR reported recently, helping teens reach out to others with suicidal thoughts and offering words of support and encouragement.
Learn more about the app here.
Touchjet Pond Projector
The interactive touch projector, with a built-in Android operating system, allows teachers to turn any wall or chalkboard into an 80-inch touchscreen – much like a whiteboard. But this allows students to beam what’s on their smartphones onto the projector and use a host of Android educational apps together.
Teachers and students can also download any Android education apps, like Math Duel or eduDroid, directly to the device itself, like Khan Academy or Google Classroom.
It costs about $600 for the full package.
More information can be found at touchjet.com.
OneNote, Microsoft’s competitor to EverNote, is a one-stop shop app to make life more organized. It lets you create simple or complex notes, using other articles or content from the Web, and organize them into searchable notebooks. You can also sync them to other platforms including Windows PCs, Macs, iPads, and iPhones and Android devices.
Microsoft recently added a new feature for Androids, called “floaties,” a new icon that hovers above other apps to quickly access the note-taking platform without having to open it manually.
The computer company has also been marketing the product to students, teachers and administrators to deliver curriculum and lessons in a less time-consuming way. One teacher, in Microsoft’s blog, said she uses OneNote for her students who have autism because they are more tactile and respond to images rather than verbal prompts.
“Microsoft OneNote and Windows tablets have had a huge impact on learning and instruction in my classroom,” wrote Alexis Parker, a special education teacher at a Florida elementary school. “They have given my students a way to demonstrate their knowledge that was previously unavailable to them.”
Learn more about OneNote in Education here.
Reach the reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @clestch.