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10 EdTech startups to get excited about

Edtech Startups to get excited about

EdTech innovations now allow collaborative blackboarding, virtual language immersion and online microbiology labs for aspiring scientists. Creative minds in educational technology are finding ways to amp up the learning process and help both teachers and students organize data. Here's an alphabetical list of 10 companies taking leaps forward in the EdTech world and a little bit about the tools they're building for today's students and educators.

  • BiblioNasium: BiblioNasium aims to help children find a passion for books, mirroring the personal need of book-loving parent and co-founder Marjan Ghara. This virtual village for readers lets kids share book recommendations with each other, track their progress with reading logs and search for other books at their reading level. Using encouragement, community support and an achievement-based system of discipline, BiblioNasium shows that reading is a social activity as well as good exercise for the imagination. This digital network for bibliophiles offers tools for teachers and parents as well.

  • Dailybreak: For a fun study break or brainteaser, Dailybreak provides bite-sized challenges, quizzes, trivia contests and games in a social environment. Raffles and auctions tempt the winners. Like many startups, this venture-backed Boston outfit was brewed in college dorms by a group of close friends. The startup's focus isn't on education but is student-friendly -- this entertaining platform helps advertisers reach targeted audiences such as girls, guys or college students. The channel for Moms spans themes like fairy tales, ladies of history, and kids' books and TV shows.

  • GatherEducation: Pano Anthos, Shonak Patel and Chris Mortonson build on their startup experience and tech savvy to give teachers, tutors and other instructors the chance to present their own class material online. The virtual classroom service is in private beta as of January 2013; the developers just ask for feedback. Educators can employ this software for tutoring, K-12 students, higher education or professional training; uses include review sessions, office hours and group tutoring. Interactive features range from group voice chat to real-time polling.

  • Late Nite Labs: Welcome to virtual labs ranging from spectrophotometric analysis to the evolution of island lizards. Students can participate in interactive science labs designed for blended and online education, running simulated, Web-based experiments. More than 150 virtual science labs give STEM students a boost with visual aids and a digital learning management system. Currently specializing in biology and chemistry, this New York-based startup creates a bridge between online school and hands-on, traditional education.

  • Learnmetrics (formerly known as Ontract): The amount of data generated in educational settings can be staggering, considering attendance, state testing scores and so on. Ontract offers data reporting and analysis to help educators design systems to serve their students. Founded and headquartered in Cincinnati, Ontract provides tools aimed at eliminating inefficiency in the data mining process, giving instructors and administrators information they can use to create effective learning environments for their students. Customizable report options range from visual presentation to predictive analysis.

  • Smarterer: Find crowdsourced test questions about basic English grammar, advanced math or social media. Students, graduates and professionals alike can benchmark their abilities in academic subjects as well as digital, social and technical skills. The tests are evaluated and scored with a sophisticated mechanism called the Glicko system, which is also used in chess and the NCAA to determine rankings. Founders Dave Balter, Michael Kowalchik and Jennifer Fremont-Smith hope Smarterer can help everyone remember that the thinking cap doesn't come off with the cap and gown.

  • TenMarks: Math can be tough to teach, and to meet this challenge, founders Rohit Agarwal and Andrew Joseph launched TenMarks Math in 2010. The startup is based bi-locally in San Francisco and Boston -- two centers of tech and education. TenMarks aims to create customized learning environments for personalized practice, with immediate feedback to keep students engaged. For example, a summer math program was designed to help parents motivate children to keep learning outside of school. For educators, the Web-based learning system can organize assignments, automate grading and offer interactive lessons and videos.

  • Testive: The SAT may be a different type of test now than used to be, but it's still important to college hopefuls. Testive is a standardized test preparation and skill-building app that can help students pinpoint their strengths and weaknesses. An alum of the TechStars Boston accelerator, Testive uses algorithms developed at MIT to determine a pattern of questions to predict your potential SAT score in about 30 minutes. The SATHABIT blog has great tips, too, like how to befriend the SAT essay section.

  • Verbling: Language learning is a hot area for EdTech. Inspired by the experiential learning trips that college students sometimes take to other countries, Verbling provides immersion-style foreign language practice over the Internet, from the comfort of one's own home. Without scheduling, downloading or searching, lovers of linguistics can connect to native speakers using the software developed by these Y Combinator-backed San Francisco innovators. Live video in real-time allows for on-demand practice, for example, midnight Spanish practice before a final exam, a useful option for both procrastinators and over-achievers.

  • Wisr: Interactive learning blends with digital networking for individuals looking to test their knowledge. This simple implementation of the Twitter API feeds quiz questions to learners on a vast variety of themes. The thousands who follow the Wisr feed receive questions that come with multiple answer choices, and educated guesses are sent in the form of an @-reply to the quizmaster. Topics range from sports to marketing, but students can zoom in on subjects such as life sciences, psychology, language, literature, math and more.

The world of educational technology is growing every day, adding new gadgets, applications, points of view and solutions to wide-ranging challenges. Innovators are harnessing the power of technology to make improvements to learning we often didn't even know we needed. These are only a few of the EdTech startups out there for students, teachers and parents to discover.

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