Horgan Elementary School first-grader Evelina Lucas, right, helps her Chromebook buddy, kindergartener Emily Zhang, in a graphing exercise.

Horgan Elementary School first-grader Evelina Lucas, right, helps her Chromebook buddy, kindergartener Emily Zhang, in a graphing exercise. Photo: 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.

For more news about educational technology and blended learning, sign up for our free Blended Learning newsletter, delivered to your inbox every Tuesday. Sign up for a free subscription, and invite a friend to subscribe.

[Cross-posted at The Hechinger Report]

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Nichole Dobo writes about blended learning. Most of her 10-year career as a reporter has focused on education. She has also covered stories about government, courts, business and religion. She was a staff writer at The News Journal in Wilmington, Del., The York Daily Record/Sunday News in York, Pa., The Times-Tribune in Scranton, Pa. and The Citizens' Voice in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. and has been published in The Atlantic's online edition. She won first prize and best of show for education writing in 2011 from the Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Press Association. She earned a B.A. in journalism at the Pennsylvania State University.