By Betsy Corcoran, EdSurge
Teachers who want to use technology in the classroom to its best potential typically face a problem dealing with computers that's weirdly reminiscent of dealing with a roomful of bright but disruptive students: It can be too much of a good thing.
With sophisticated high-tech tools comes a deluge of data, and for a lot of teachers, finding the right resources at the right moment can be maddeningly difficult. What's more, the most sophisticated programs, which deliver detailed reports about student progress, don't share data--which means that teachers can wind up with multiple "data dashboards."
So educational technology entrepreneurs are starting to offer up a bit of help for both of these programs, according to two reports in today's EdSurge newsletter.
In Mountain View, a startup nonprofit organization, EdNovo, is doing early "alpha" tests of a Google-like search program for helping teachers find exactly the right digital content at the right time. And in San Francisco, a firm called EdElements just got a huge boost of financing to support its work in building a unified "data dashboard" that can combine data from different programs to help teachers avoid an air-traffic-control like problem as they try to mix and match the tools they use.
First EdNovo: with a team of almost a dozen educators and engineers, former Google executive Prasad Ram is building a free search engine he calls "Gooru" to retrieve digital content starting with math and science. So far, the team has tagged and organized 20,000 free resources on the web, along with 1,200 class plans and "classbooks," which are effectively playlists for learning. The effort is still very much under construction. Some 300 educators, including teachers at Oakland International High School, Milpitas Unified School District and FlipSchool are providing the first feedback. But Gooru promises to deliver what educators have long dreamed of: an education-specific search engine that pulls up timely and usable material for teachers. Educators can request a chance to try out the program here. [Update: Gooru is now open to any user.]