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Top 10 emerging technologies in education

With educational technology, social networking and agile apps are all the rage. Whether it's a group of students collaborating on a project or a research team seeking out resources around the globe, today’s EdTech essentials are all about keeping in touch. The emerging products, companies and high-tech tools on our list are all designed to make life easier for online teachers, students and researchers. Take a look.

  • Knowledge Transmission: This Cambridge-based team aims to deliver the best social learning experience in the world. To do that, its developers are hard at work on mobile products, like Kigo Apps, designed to prepare students for TOEIC practice tests. The company creates a number of digital products for online learning and boasts a powerful back-list conversion, which makes it simple for you to bring many of your low-tech tools into the digital age.

  • Scholrly: Where do you go when you're looking for solid research? Scholrly founders hope you choose their brand-new search site. Co-founder Corbin Pon says, "When we talk about neighborhoods, we know that there are communities of related research that are not always easy to see and explore." The creators of the engine, currently in beta, hopes to revolutionize the way scholars and garage inventors alike find data.

  • Instructure: Online learning veterans know that organizing a web-based classroom requires a complex system. That's why Instructure created Canvas, a features-rich platform featuring a speed grader, an online testing manager and other simple-yet-powerful pedagogy tools. Based in Salt Lake City, this Learning Management System (LMS) newcomer is led by CEO Josh Coates and co-founders Brian Whitmer and Devlin Daley.

  • Skitch by Evernote: You already love the note-taking powerhouse. Now meet Skitch, the sketching tool that makes it simple to make your point using built-in arrows, shapes and quick sketches. The tool moves flawlessly from phone to desktop to tablet. Evernote's team -- including CEO Phil Libin and founder Stepan Pachikov -- are banking that their products will help the world communicate easier.

  • Desire2Learn: Simple meets sophisticated; that's the Desire2Learn philosophy. Their Learning Suite 10 offers an intuitive user interface, beautiful course homepages and an easy way to make podcasts and downloadable presentations. Desire2Learn was founded in 1999 and -- through partnerships with companies like IBM and Adobe -- aspires to stand at the forefront of advance educational technology for years to come.

  • Udacity: How many robotics engineers does it take to reinvent education? At Udacity, the answer is three: David Stavens, Mike Sokolsky and Sebastian Thrun, who use their unique backgrounds to think big with distance learning. (How big? Think 200,000 students per class.) The system includes Google's moderator service, which allows students to vote on the best questions for instructors to answer.

  • The SNAC Project: Believe it or not, there were social networking sites before Facebook. Their remnants -- newspapers, corporate publications and personal histories -- are scattered across manuscript archives and libraries around the world. The Social Networks and Archival Context Project hopes to change that, creating methods and tools for matching and combining records, creating timeline-map histories, accommodating languages other than English and more. Before long, you could find the menu from a picnic in 1950s Idaho without leaving your deck chair.

  • Mendeley: Manage your research, collaborate with other academics and bring your bibliography online with the tool designed to make life easier for grad students and professors alike. The site, co-founded by Dr. Victor Henning, Jan Reichelt and Paul Föckler, already boasts over 1.7 million users and above 242 million documents. And, unlike EndNote and RefWorks, Mendeley's basic software package is free.

  • Moodle: This user-friendly course management system from Australia is designed for both purely online schooling and blended courses. Moodle is open source, and volunteers take charge of much of the development process. The end product is easy to customize for large and small courses alike. Martin Dougiamas, the creator of Moodle, thinks of his LMS as an infinitely-customizable Lego-world for educators.

  • SlideShark: Love your iPad, but hate having to switch to a laptop in order to view presentations? SlideShark offers an elegant solution. The free app retains the fonts, colors and graphics of your PowerPoint presentations, allowing you to show on the go and work anywhere. The app is made by Brainshark, a company founded in 1999 by Joe Gustafson and designed to change the way students and businesses work on the road. SlideShark looks to be the perfect solution for online college presentations on mobile devices.

The tools above have one important thing in common: they're all designed to evolve and adapt with emerging technology and shifting student and teacher need. You'll find new innovations in the EdTech space every day, but it's safe to say that the minds behind our list are a good place to watch for the next generation of smarter schools.

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