First Look from ISTE: Listen Edition


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First Look is a series from the Tech-Savvy Teachers featuring innovative services, hardware and software from our exploration of the vendor floor at ISTE 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia.  

An often-overlooked part of the massive vendor floor at ISTE was the excellent Ed-Tech Start-Up Pavilion, a place for small or evolving educational technology start-ups to showcase their wares.  The Tech-Savvy Teachers visited a number of these great idea companies, all which provided interesting or new takes on the challenges of teaching students in a tech-rich environment.

As a former social studies teacher, I was particularly interested in Listen Edition, a content delivery start up founded by Monica Brady-Myerov, a veteran public radio journalist.

The premise is simple: public radio is a treasure trove of content that can be used to engage students in almost every subject at any age, however, like the Internet itself, the vast archive can be overwhelming for classroom teachers looking for content but with very specific needs and limited time to dig.Microphone

Listen Edition pulls individual stories from prominent public radio producers like NPR and provides educational materials aimed at effortless integration of the story in the classroom, including guiding questions, content standard associations, transcripts, suggested homework assignments and even pre-created Socrative quizzes (very smart marketing move here) on the stories.

There are sample full units on their website (like this lesson on the Declaration of Independence) along with a means of checking out the entire library, broken down by both age group and content area, without a subscription.

The service is commercial, but, does offer a 45-day free trial and their current events articles, while not quite the depth of their commercial library, are regularly updated and free.

In speaking with Listen Edition staff at ISTE, they seem very committed to the evolving the delivery platform, including more functionality to associate metadata like standards associations and looking at integrating content via platforms like LTI, both excellent editions to an otherwise solid product.

Overall, this is precisely the kind of product that distinguishes itself in a content-heavy-context-light Internet and could provide a teacher access to a lot of high quality content with materials to ease its introduction in the K-12 classroom.

As an aside, the Listen Edition teach also provides an excellent page called “Listen Edition Studio,” which details equipment that a classroom might purchase to make their own radio and an initial set of lesson plans to do so.  I am reminded very much of Dr. Wes Fryer’s Storychaser concept and training, both focused on empowering students to use digital tools to tell the stories of the people and places around them.  The recommendations of equipment on the Listen Edition team alone are worth the click.

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