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When it comes to connecting teachers with students and students with classrooms, technology has long had a seat at the front of the class. From the early days of A/V equipment to today’s interactive options and digital devices, the learning process is both enhanced and expanded through ed-tech innovations. Today distance is not a barrier, and lifelong learning is at your fingertips.

Here are a few emerging A+ educational opportunities that we’ve recently learned about:

Turn Device Time into Learning Time

According to a recent Gallup poll, 41 percent of educators say that digital devices (defined as smartphones, tablets and computers) are helpful to a student’s education. That same poll, however, showed that 69 percent of parents worry that those devices will be harmful to the health of their children.

You know that kids are going to spend too much time on their (or your) devices, no matter how much you try to regulate their use. Why not let them spend that time, but turn it into a teaching tool? Timo Kids wants to help you do just that. Their goal is to “promote the learning process and prepare children to face the challenges of life.” They do that through games and stories that address issues such as bullying, health and social behavior. Available in four languages, the app is used in more than 190 countries.

Education for the Gig Economy

Of course, there’s a huge market for digital educators beyond teachers that educate children. Startups like Teach Me Now are available for either kids or adults to learn anything from a second (or third) language, to essay-writing skills, to math, history or literature. Simply sign on to the website, register an account as a student or an expert, and choose your subject. The site handles video call arrangements and payment.

Learn a Language, Change a Life

If you’re interested in learning a language while helping to change someone’s life, there’s Chatterbox, a learning site literally powered by refugees. It addresses the all-too-common problem of refugees arriving in a new location with considerable skills but no employment opportunities. You can learn an entirely new language or practice your conversational skills with packages purchased through the site. Several universities, such as Durham, Westminster University and the University of Edinburgh, have signed on as partners so that their students can learn a language and improve a refugee’s life at the same time.  

Compressing Videos and Expanding Minds

One problem for learners in developing countries is the lack of bandwidth; wifi is expensive or simply not available. DotLearn seeks to remedy that problem by compressing data to make video learning more widely available. Their technology converts data-heavy videos to data-light, making them fast and easy to download and store locally. So schools of all kinds can create videos for distance learners and compress them at a reasonable price.

Helping more people in all corners of the world access educational opportunities isn’t a test; it’s an imperative. And using technology to enhance education isn’t a novelty anymore, either -- as illustrated by the exciting advances presented by this handful of our ed-tech colleagues; it’s academic.