edshelf

edshelf Weekly - Tools for Learning Engineering Skills

Only 5 days left for the edshelf Kickstarter campaign! I won’t be able to keep edshelf online without your help. And we are so close. Please share with your network to help keep this free service alive!

Engineering skills are becoming increasingly necessary in today’s job market. Fortunately, there is a range of resources to help students from kindergarten to middle school. Another of edshelf’s kind supporters, Kodable, is featured in this issue. Please give them some love!

  • Kodable - An iPad curriculum teaching kids K-5 the fundamentals of programming. Get the free app now! KICKSTARTER CAMPAIGN SUPPORTER!
  • Geared - A fun physics-based iOS puzzle game of putting gears together to pass each level.
  • WolframAlpha - This vast resource of visually organized information covers everything from engineering to history to linguistics.
  • Electrical Toolkit - A simple but handy iOS reference guide and unit conversion app for electrical engineering.
  • Roominate - Build do-it-yourself dollhouses with circuits, lights, fans, and other interactive moving parts.
  • GoldieBlox - Or build do-it-yourself contraptions that include a stories around inventor Goldie and her friends.

Want more? Check out this collection of tools created by a member like you.

Enjoy these great tools for educators!

Want a fresh copy of the edshelf Weekly newsletter in your inbox too? Sign up with edshelf today!

- Mike Lee, Co-founder of edshelf

P. S. Want free educational iPad apps? Check out the Happi Teacher Program!


edshelf Weekly - STEM Tools

Only 12 days left for the edshelf Kickstarter campaign! I won’t be able to keep edshelf online without your help. Even if only 5% of your followers, friends, and colleagues contribute just $1, $5, or $10, we will be able to keep this free service alive!

Providing a solid STEM curriculum is a priority for many schools. Here are some tools that can help you assemble STEM engaging lessons. Also, one of edshelf’s kind supporters, Matific, is featured in this issue. Please give them some love!

  • Matific - Hundreds of free math activities and worksheets for grades K-6! KICKSTARTER CAMPAIGN SUPPORTER!
  • VideoScience - A video library of over 80 hands-on science lessons, brought to you by the Science House Foundation.
  • FluidMath 2014 - This iPad app interprets handwritten math to help visualize pre-algebra through calculus equations.
  • Pick-a-Path - A game where you traverse a path of numbers based on powers of ten, negative numbers, fractions, and more.
  • SimpleRockets - Test your knowledge of physics and build a rocket ship to explore the solar system.

Want more? Check out this collection of tools created by a member like you.

  • STEAM Apps - STEM + Arts = STEAM. Curated by the digital learning specialists The Tech Chicks.

Enjoy these great tools for educators!

Want a fresh copy of the edshelf Weekly newsletter in your inbox too? Sign up with edshelf today!

- Mike Lee, Co-founder of edshelf

P. S. Want to try out quality paid iPad apps for free? Willing to write a review for each for a chance to win an iTunes gift card? Check out the Happi Teacher Program.


Halfway Through Kickstarter

My jaw drops every time I look at the edshelf Kickstarter campaign. It is so humbling to see how many generous pledges have poured in.

Many people have told me, and still keep telling me, that this isn’t going to work out. They are all very kind people with the best of intentions. They have even held their own Kickstarter campaigns aimed at the education community. I take their advice to heart, especially since their campaigns sadly did not work out.

So I am cautiously optimistic. We are halfway through and there is still a tough mountain to climb, though these generous voices of support always fill me with hope:

From Michael Britt:

From the Tech Chicks:

From Michael Boll:

From Greg Walkup:

Please help me continue spreading the word. Every foot is a foot closer. If there are organizations that you think may be interested in helping, please let me know and perhaps I can work out a mutually-beneficial arrangement. I have already been in contact with some groups and have potentially exciting plans in motion, but more is always merrier!

And finally, a great big Thank You from my daughter and I for your wonderfully generous support!

Thank you so much!

- Mike Lee, Co-founder of edshelf


edshelf Weekly - Fun Educational Games

The generous support for the edshelf Kickstarter campaign has been amazing. There’s still a ways to go, and I would love your help in spreading the word on blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and other social media. (Also, more t-shirts are available!) Thank you so much!

A fun game can be a great way to deliver instruction, especially during a break from school. It can make education more engaging for even the most recalcitrant student. And sometimes they can be pretty fun for adults too.

  • Tesseract - Looking for a challenge? This four-dimensional puzzle requires rolling a sphere to each side of… a hypercube.
  • The Fluid Ether - For a physics puzzle with fewer dimensions, in this game you use water currents to propel balls around.
  • Numblr - Here is another twist on an old classic: crosswords using mathematical equations!
  • SparkleFish - Or how about Mad Libs, but recording your own voice to fill in the missing words?

Want more? Check out these collections of tools created by members like you.

Enjoy these great tools for educators!

Want a fresh copy of the edshelf Weekly newsletter in your inbox too? Sign up with edshelf today!

- Mike Lee, Co-founder of edshelf


Saving edshelf with Crowdfunding

When I started edshelf, I didn’t want to take money from educators. I believed - and still believe - that it is possible to have an ethical and self-sustaining business by charging edtech companies instead [1].

So it was with mixed feelings that I launched edshelf’s Kickstarter Campaign.

I didn’t want to ask educators for money, but the incredible outpouring of support from the #saveedshelf convinced me that I needed to try this last-ditch effort. I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I didn’t.

The Effect of #saveedshelf

Many have asked how the #saveedshelf campaign was going to help. Was it going to bring renewed interest from investors? From acquirers? From benefactors? From something else? Honestly, I wasn’t sure.

Then the emails and calls poured in. No, not from investors. But from lots and lots of brilliant people looking for ways to help. Some were fellow edtech entrepreneurs with partnership possibilities. Some were similar services with acquisition offers. Some were educators with lots of helpful suggestions.

Most, by far, were companies interested in edshelf’s assets - specifically, the email addresses of edshelf’s members. I turned down those offers right away. No price will make me give up edshelf’s members like that.

The Crowdfunding Possibility

Of all the emails, the crowdfunding suggestions stuck with me. I was originally advised by people at the popular crowdfunding sites that this wouldn’t work for edshelf. The amount that I calculated I would need to raise in order to remain competitive in this market was too high. Competitors were well-funded and had large teams. To stay relevant, I thought I would need at least a small team.

But the suggestion was still stuck. It was in my head like “Let It Go” from Frozen. So, like, a lot.

Then I thought: what if I “rebooted” edshelf? What if I started over and, knowing what I know now, built edshelf the way it should have been built? Meaning: make it revenue-generating and self-sustainable from Day One. Make it able to sustain just me, then grow from there, slowly and steadily?

Except for one huge benefit: I’m not really starting over. I’m starting with a really passionate membership of edtech early adopters and a set of features that they’ve grown to love. So it’s like starting over at Day Seven.

With that plan in mind, I calculated how much I would need to get edshelf to self-sustainability. $30k. Compared to how much of my own savings I’ve already invested in the last 2.5 years, it’s a small number. But I think it’s a realistic number. And now I can’t wait to set the plan in motion and get edshelf back on track!

I Need Your Help

If you’ve enjoyed edshelf’s newsletters, collections, and search capabilities - and look forward to evolved versions of each - please consider supporting edshelf’s Kickstarter campaign. Even a small donation would mean a lot. And more than anything else, please share the campaign with your colleagues, friends, and neighbors.

Educators deserve good tools. Together we can make sure educators are always equipped with them.

Thank you so much!

- Mike Lee, Co-founder of edshelf

[1] One plan is to offer edtech companies various ways to promote themselves on edshelf within approved channels. I’ve already been listing some as sponsors of the weekly newsletter and will continue that. In terms of the business, I don’t care to squeeze out every dollar I can by putting deceitful advertising everywhere; that’s not why I started this business. I believe I can sustain edshelf using only ethical advertising channels. (i.e. Search results will NEVER be influenced by paid advertisers. Like Google, I may place sponsored listings that are visually separate from the search results.)


edshelf Weekly - Digital Storytelling Tools

Yes, edshelf is still around for at least another 30 days! With your help, perhaps it can be around even longer. Please share the edshelf Kickstarter campaign with your colleagues and PLNs. Thank you so much!

Storytelling is an important art for both students and working professionals. Give your students the power to craft a story as a way to learn a topic, think critically, increase literacy skills, and express their creativity.

  • Rory’s Story Cubes - Shake nine virtual cubes for story prompts. Try using all nine prompts for a fun challenge!
  • Shadow Puppet Edu - A kid-friendly project-based learning and digital storytelling app with Common Core activity ideas too.
  • Plotagon - Create a 3D animated story by writing in a movie script format. Characters come with a library of animated actions.
  • 30hands - This slide-based storytelling app also works as a presentation creator and allows images, videos, and audio.
  • Storytelling Alice - A PC-based application that teaches students (particularly girls) programming through creating 3D animated movies.

Want more? Check out these collections of tools created by members like you.

  • Authors R Us - Curated by the digital learning specialists The Tech Chicks.

Enjoy these great tools for educators!

Want a fresh copy of the edshelf Weekly newsletter in your inbox too? Sign up with edshelf today!

- Mike Lee, Co-founder of edshelf


edshelf Weekly - Teacher-Created Edtech Tools

The #saveedshelf campaign has been incredible. I will have an announcement about it in the next few days. Stay tuned!

Good edtech companies make an effort to talk to and understand the world of an educator. Who better to bridge that gap than educators-turned-entrepreneurs themselves? Here are some products created by teachers.

  • TweechMe - Learn how to expand your PLN on Twitter using lessons provided by this app.
  • Mathalicious - Use real-world examples, like buying pizza, to teach your students critical math skills.
  • FluencyFinder - Assess and track a student’s word-per-minute reading fluency easily with this app.
  • QuizSlides - Create multiple choice formative or summative assessments from PowerPoint or PDF files.
  • SmarterCookie - Coach teachers using video with this professional development platform.

Want more? Check out these collections of tools created by members like you.

  • TFA Alumni - A collection of edtech products created by Teach For America alumni.

Enjoy these great tools for educators!

- Mike Lee, Co-founder of edshelf


#saveedshelf

Coming to the decision to close edshelf was a decision I stubbornly put off to the absolute last minute. Two and a half years of my life were poured into researching, building, evolving, measuring, marketing, and pushing it forward. Clicking on the “Send” button for edshelf’s shut down announcement was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.

I felt I let my members down, so I braced myself for a torrent of angry emails. Instead, I received a flood of supportive replies. Whew! Then a flood of supportive tweets, such as:

I took solace in the fact that these were another sign of product validation. There’s nothing quite like knowing something you’ve made is useful and liked by other people.

Then something curious happened. William Jenkins published a thoughtful article that concluded with support for Alicia Leonard's call to #saveedshelf.

And like that, this little hashtag started gaining momentum. I saw it appearing up and down my Twitter feed. Wow. WOW. WOW!

I am truly humbled. And in awe. And am eternally grateful.

How did I get so lucky to have this hashtag campaign rise up in support of my venture? I know a lot of edtech entrepreneurs who have poured as much of themselves into their startups as I. They care just as much as I do. And many of them had to shut down their businesses too. Why didn’t they get a hashtag campaign to save their companies?

I’ve been told that it was my personal farewell email that triggered many to offer their support. My startup journey is no different than any other entrepreneur. The vast majority of businesses fail. But I think educators empathized with the fact that I poured my heart, soul, and personal savings into edshelf. That is no different than teachers who open their hearts, souls, and wallets for their students every day.

So is this campaign working?

My inbox is full and my calendar is packed full of calls and meetings. Since many of these are still ongoing, I’m afraid I can’t share any specifics right now. Sorry about that. What I can say is, I’m really excited! I will have something more substantial to announce soon.

Thank you all so much for your kindness, generosity, and support. It’s amazing acts like these that make all the sacrifices of an entrepreneur worth it.

I wish I could reach out and give each and every one of you the same kind of joy you’re giving me right now. You are amazing. Thank you for supporting this hashtag. Thank you for your supportive blog posts. Thank you for your supportive emails. Thank you!

And also, if there is another edtech product that you also really love and don’t want to see go away, consider leaving a kind review for them on edshelf so other educators can support them too :)

- Mike Lee, Co-founder of edshelf


edshelf Weekly - Tools to Expand Your Personal Learning Network

Even with the impending shut down of edshelf, I apparently can’t stop sending these weekly emails. The amazing #saveedshelf campaign still astonishes me, so how can I not write one more? (And thank you again everyone for your generous support!)

Interested in expanding your Personal Learning Network over social media? Here are some tools to make you a social media pro.

  • HootSuite - Read and schedule posts to Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, and WordPress using this social media manager.
  • tagboard - See all posts from across Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Instagram, and Vine that include a specific #hashtag.
  • Feedly - Follow your favorite bloggers and see all of their latest posts using this handy free website.
  • Meetup - Look for local meet ups of educators and establish in-person connections. Or create a meet up of your own.
  • Google Voice - Set up an alternate phone number that can email, text, and ring you on your own phone.

Want more? Check out these collections of tools created by members like you.

  • PLE & PLN - Curated by ESL teacher Mª Jesús García San Martín.

Enjoy these great tools for educators!

- Mike Lee, Co-founder of edshelf


edshelf Weekly - Useful Edtech Tools You May Not Know

Since I announced that edshelf is shutting down, I wasn’t going to send any more weekly emails. But the amazing generosity of the #saveedshelf campaign motivated me (WOW, and how!) to write one more.

Here is a list of educational tools you may not have heard of, but may be useful when assembling your classroom curriculum.

  • Project Gutenberg - A library of over 45,000 free ebooks in various formats, like EPUB, Kindle, HTML, and plain text.
  • TinEye - In this reverse image search engine, you submit an image to find where it came from, high resolution versions, and more.
  • Write-on Video - Annotate videos or create slideshows of pictures and text, then share your animated lessons or digital stories.
  • Field Trip - A free GPS-aware app from Google that alerts with info you as walk near places of interest. Great for traveling!
  • Easy Portfolio - Students and teachers can keep a digital portfolio of photos, videos, notes and other documents with this app.

Want more? Check out these collections of tools created by members like you.

Enjoy these great tools for educators!

- Mike Lee, Co-founder of edshelf


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