High Hopes for 3 Technology Products

I recently got in-depth introductions to products that are not new but are not mature either. Each has an identity problem and is looking for a voice that can prove its value to an audience that does not know it needs it.

In this American Land from Ellis Island to the Golden Gate, Education leaders are searching for products to help personalize learning and bring equity to the learning process. Engrade, Lightspeed Technologies, and i-Ready are such products.

Engrade is not a grade book, but an open platform to deliver assessments and curriculum digitally to students. If it’s not a grade book then what is it, you may ask? I would call it a Learning Management System (LMS). But the company doesn’t call it that and I don’t see obvious reference to SCORM compliance and learning objects. Is it an assessment system? Engrade does bring in item banks and allow teachers to create online and ‘bubble’ tests with Common Core aligned items as well as custom questions each with technology enhanced items. If it looks like a duck and smells like a duck; it is a duck. Quack. Engrade is the most accessible modern LMS and Assessment System I’ve seen. Let’s hope that states and districts across this country realize that Engrade is no longer a grade book. Its acquisition by McGraw Hill will help both to get the word out and improve the product with its assessment DNA.

Lightspeed Technologies sells nothing fast nor anything to filter the internet. Some night think they have a solution in search of a problem. Teachers have generally learned to make do with teaching with their own un-amplified, un-enhanced voice. But taking Lightspeed’s research at face value, thirty percent of students could use an audio boost .

Lightspeed’s wireless system seemingly magically takes the speaker’s voice and makes it not just louder but better. Her voice does not come from the single speaker, but from where it should.

Wow, what a simple way to improve engagement for everyone – the perfect solution for the “Sage on the Stage.” But wait, shouldn’t the teacher be the “Guide on the side” using small groups and blended personalized learning?

Lightspeed’s answer is a mike pod for each group from which the teacher can snoop on the group to hear the good and the bad. I’m not sold that this is the best use of technology. I do however know that Loghtspeed Technology can enhance the voice of both the teacher and student to tackle equity and personalization in a rather simple, direst and effective manner.
The case for classroom audio

i-Ready is neither made by Apple nor does it even work well on an iPad. It is not test prep software nor help our pre-K’s get ready for school. But what I see is is the most complete and comprehensive Common Core aligned assessment and content delivery system implemented with fidelity to the textbook publishers guidelines.

It’s adaptive assessment engine for Math and Reading places students from K through 12th grade levels then recommends lessons, online and teacher-led, that meet students where they are. It suggests grouping as well and provides short check-in assessments that don’t sacrifice time. The PDF or printed materials allow teachers at any level of comfort with technology to tackle Common Core instruction giving their students the skills and knowledge they need for state online testing, and yes, college, career, and community readiness. Curriculum Associates, its publisher, is a private company that focused on a broad Common Core solution that districts want whatever it is called.

I look forward to seeing how McGraw Hill, Lightspeed Technologies, and Curriculum Associates shape their marketing and grow their products to deliver personalized learning and equity across this country regardless of name.

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