Wednesday, November 27, 2013

My 2014 Wish List for EdTech

It's the holiday season, so here's my teacher wish list of what I'd like to see happen in the edtech arena!

  • More focus on student driven learning! Yes, I mean interesting, relevant topics and approaches that engage students in not only learning, but also in helping them realize that they have a great big world of opportunity that awaits them, both in and out of school. Products that scaffold students along the way, encourage them to take bigger risks, and try out challenges just a bit above their "safe zone" score big in my book! Bonus points for platforms or games that do this and also add a place for reflection, so kids can connect their experiences of success to thoughts and ideas that will promote further success.  Kinda like something that might happen if Vgotsky, Csikszentmihalyi and Dweck got together! 

  • Tools that engage students in self regulation, reflection, and goal setting.  Whether it's a goal for their behavior at school and developing their own strategies to improve, or an academic goal, students are capable of reflecting, evaluating, and taking action. We often get in the way! If you're a developer and interested in talking more about this, let me know. I want to see more student reflection and less teacher judging... enough said!

  • Platforms that connect students to real-world mentors. In the assets based approach from the Search Institute, research shows that the higher the number of caring adults and interactions a student has, the better chance for success.  In my fantasy world, I would love to develop a tool that creates a mentor net: a group of people who virtually or in combo with f2f, help a middle to high school student create a path toward the future.  These folks could check in periodically to help a student stay on track toward his/her goals, and could recommend others that the student could include in their group of mentors. Students could also share and comment on each others' nets and encourage each other to keep working toward their goals. This platform could lead to internships, connections to college opportunities, or simply an inspiring conversation with a college student or industry professional. 

  • Tech and maker combos that allow kids to see the results of their coding exploits come to life in front of them. 3d printers are very cool and any kinds of hands on activity that allows trial and error exploration without costing a fortune are great! 

  • Tools that support overall health. Zamzee is a cool activity monitor that gets kids moving and competing against themselves and others in active play. I'd love to see tools like this incorporate self-reflection; perhaps a journal app to reflect how you felt after conquering those 12 flights of stairs? It would be incredibly powerful for kids to see the link between their self-talk, feelings of empowerment and their physical activity. Ok, I could be dreaming.. but.. 

  • More opportunities for partnerships between teachers, funders, and developers. I've had an idea that I've wanted to pursue for over a year and don't necessarily want to quit teaching. What if there was a partner match platform, where teachers could propose their ideas, get voted up or down by students and educators, and solicit partnerships with those who have what we don't  have: money, design skills, and coding skills!! 
What types of tools would you like to see in 2014? 


Marjan Ghara said...

We love your post and share your vision. Our goal at is to engage, excite and encourage kids to read. We connect them to the 3 constituents that most influence what they read: their friends, teachers and parents to create a virtual reading village. We also provide a platform where they can set goals, read against those challenges and win virtual rewards. Look us up at

Anonymous said...

You need to come with me to the next StartupWeekend EDU! I too have had the idea of a platform for students to connect to mentors and another one for teachers to connect with developers and designers. I attended last week and I made great connections! You also gave me feedback on our startup Questmaster. Thank you. I'm @mshinspires

Joan Young (aka Mancini) said...

Thanks for the comments! I will check out biblionasium! I see that my friend Shannon Miller loves you guys.
I would love to come to a StartupWeekendEDU and work with you! I will follow you on Twitter if I am not already doing so!

Anonymous said...

I love the idea of connecting all kids to a mentor. I agree, mentorship is integral to the future success of children. Really happy to see that you'll be at the next StartupWeekendEDU.
Which one are you going to?

I'll be mentoring the next one in Los Angeles

Joan Young (aka Mancini) said...

So sorry for my delayed response, Sieva! I was at the one in SF. Hope LA went well!

Unknown said...

I like your idea about partnerships between teachers, funders and developers! Teachers know what works in the classroom, and working with developers can bring useful tools to life.