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Evaluating education technology
Horgan Elementary School first-grader Evelina Lucas, right, helps her Chromebook buddy, kindergartener Emily Zhang, in a graphing exercise. Credit: Gretchen Ertl

A start-up company built around the idea of crowd-sourcing reviews for software provides a source of information for educators.

But unlike restaurant review sites that let people opine about their meals under the cloak of anonymity, the system created by G2 Crowd requires reviewers to log in through their LinkedIn accounts. It’s a quality-control tactic for a website that intends to position itself as a trusted source of reviews.

The company, based in Highland Park, Illinois, ranks various programs based on adoption rates and the satisfaction of customers. The site isn’t devoted entirely to education technology, but it provides some reviews of programs used by schools. For instance, they recently published research on learning management systems. (For those who don’t want to spend $599 on the report, there is a free real-time ranking.)

Of course, the customary word of caution about any ranking: It is an opinion, based on a methodology created by G2 Crowd. That said, it’s fascinating to see who rates high in this analysis: It’s not just the long-time players in education technology. Blackboard, a well-established brand, is tops in terms of use and satisfaction, but newcomers aren’t far behind.

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At The Hechinger Report, we’ve written about educators who are overwhelmed – and, at times, underwhelmed – by the number of options for education technology programs and products. Experts advise school leaders to make a plan for education before they start shopping for technology. And it’s a good idea to get teacher opinions. Graphite, for instance, is a site that provides free reports on educational games, websites and apps, all based on educator reviews.

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This story was produced by The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, independent news organization focused on inequality and innovation in education. Read more about blended learning.

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