School Bus

For the last couple of years, I’ve been asking teachers to tell me the one new tool that they’re most looking forwarding to taking back into the classroom with them this fall. With Labor Day now behind us and with most schools back in session, I’m happy to share the results of my latest survey.

The Top 3

Instructure Canvas

The Rest

A couple of things that struck me about this year’s results:

1.  As in the past, there was a diverse set of responses. Many of the tools mentioned were just mentioned once. There was excitement for both hardware (LED projectors, piano keyboards) and software (apps galore), with a definite nod towards mobile devices (with iPads, text-messaging apps, apps in general). However, unlike previous back-to-school seasons, where there was a clear trendy product — oh, say, iPads — there was an even wider range of tools mentioned this fall. More responses; more tools. An excitement about education technology in general, perhaps.

2.  And yet, little has changed over the last couple of years in terms of the most popular tools mentioned. Folks are still excited for Google+ and Edmodo (broadly speaking, social networking in schools). And everyone still is gaga for iPads.

3.  Wait, what? A learning management system? What is Instructure doing on the list this year?! Everyone hates their LMS, right? Except, it looks like, not really. This is the part where I have to interject here that this is a pretty informal survey circulated to my social networks, and so maybe Instructure retweeted the story and an overwhelming number of happy clients answered. But that’s the thing, right? A bunch of happy LMS clients answered. People are excited about an LMS.

4. Thankfully, the Maker Movement is penetrating the classroom. 3D printers, the Kickstarter-ed project Makey Makey (“the invention kit for everyone”), Lego robotics kits — lots of teachers are excitedly planning hands-on learning experiences with their students (which I interpret as lots of teachers who’ve spent the summer making — awesome).

5. Google’s education product line is fragmented, but much-beloved. Google+ was one of the most frequently mentioned tools in this survey (particularly popular among followers who responded on G+, I should note). But there were lots of mentions of other Google products too: Google Hangouts. The Nexus. Google Apps for Education. It’s clear that Apple has a lot of education’s hardware mindshare with the iPad. And that comes with an app ecosystem too, of course. But Google is right there too with its cloud-based offerings. What are Google’s plans for EDU? (No one mentioned Chromebooks!)

Last Years’ Results


  1. iPad
  2. Twitter
  3. Google Apps for Education
  4. Blogs


  1. Google+
  2. Edmodo
  3. iPad

Photo credits: Bruno Grin

Audrey Watters


Hack Education

The History of the Future of Education Technology

Back to Archives