Ideas for Evaluating Digital Technology Resources and Sharing What You Learn With Others

For the second module in my course this quarter at school we are focusing on the ISTE Educator Standards 1 and 2. These standards focus on how teachers and educators can take the plethora of digital technology tools and resources that are constantly changing and being thrown at them and organize them in such a way that they can engage with them to understand which ones really meet their learning and teaching needs and which ones are best suited for which activities. These two ISTE Educator standards really help educators think about and focus on what learning goals they are trying to meet and how technology can support that and then thinking about how we can research the tools that we’re using and share that research with our fellow colleagues in order to learn and grow from and with each other. So when I started this module I really wanted to dig deeper into resources that were out there that would support educators in exploring different digital technology tools quickly and efficiently in order to determine whether or not their needs fit with what they were looking for and meet their learning goals. All of this thinking helped me to focus in on my question for this module.


During this time of social isolation and even afterward how can educators make the time to explore resources and model this exploration and evaluation for their colleagues so that we can all learn from each other?


I’m really curious about how educators can be sure to balance their time so that they’re not spending hours upon hours researching and evaluating resources but can efficiently do it. I think this will help them find balance so that they can continue to grow professionally in their learning and not become overwhelmed with so many different possibilities.

So Where to Begin?

In my search to answer my question for this module I came across two resources that helped guide my thinking and approach to how educators might efficiently look at different digital technology resources and evaluate them before using them with students and before sharing them with their colleagues.

The first resource was a blog post by Peter Grimm on Edmentum that talked about the different questions that educators should ask when looking at and evaluating resources. I agree with Grimm when he talks about how whether it is in a traditional classroom or an online classroom, educators still need to look at best practices and make sure that what they are doing supports best practices. Even when working in a digital space the same best practices still apply as would in a face to face classroom. I also appreciate that the post is not focused on making the learning fit the tool but instead making sure the tool fits with the learning. Whatever the resource is it should align with standards, engage students, support teachers, and help support classroom instruction. At the end of the post there was a link for more resources. One of those resources was an evaluation rubric that they had created that was very straightforward. The rubric allows educators to go through some different questions that they can ask themselves when looking at digital technology resources or tools. The rubric is divided into 4 different sections; content, administrative functionality, student engagement, and customization. Within each section there are between 4 to 6 questions that educators rank on a 1-3 scale. Depending on the type of resource that educators are looking at some questions may not fit and there is the ability to mark those with N/A. While I appreciate having something ready made for educators to use, I am wondering if there is a way to make it even more user friendly. One idea I have is to create a scorable form that could be quickly filled out when looking at a resource. Then the form could populate a spreadsheet that ranks the resource based on the total points or score it receives. Could even color code the resource based on the score with green being a great resource and red meaning that the educator should consider a different resource.

Another resource that I came across was an article from NEAtoday.org that talks about the quick steps teachers can take to evaluate any digital technology resource within seven minutes. The author, Jacqui Murray lists two steps for quickly evaluating edtech tools. The first step is to qualify the tool and they say it should only take 2 minutes. In order to go on to the next step the tool must pass three questions;

  1. Is the resource free or does it have a small fee?
  2. Will the resource work with my learning management system (LMS)?
  3. Is the resource easy to install and set up?

If the resource passes those questions then the author moves it onto the next step which is “playtime” and they say to only spend roughly 5 minutes here. For me this is one of the most important pieces to this evaluation, giving time for a teacher to play with the resource in order to determine its ease-of-use with students or with fellow educators. I also appreciated that they shared that not all programs that are a great choice will pass the checklist, so users need to weigh all things when making decisions.

So I’ve Evaluated a Resource Now What?

So now that an educator has evaluated a resource and determined if it is worth spending more time on, how do they share that learning? One idea that came to mind as I continued to explore was how educators could collaborate in order to share their findings with each other and continue to learn and grow from each other. One way that I thought educators might be able to do this is by using a digital resource called Wakelet. If you have never heard of Wakelet before, it is a digital curation platform. It is free to use and users can save links, social media posts, videos, images, and other types of documents. The platform also allows for collaboration. Users can share a link to their collection with other users who can then add additional resources to the collection.

Using Wakelet to share digital technology resources with colleagues

I would love to test out Wakelet with others. If you are interesting in adding to any of the collections I have started you can use the codes below. I will add additional codes as I create collections. Also I would love to check out and add to any collections that you start. You can share your codes in the comment section below.

  • FlipGrid: a42b521
  • Edpuzzle: 9e0e03a
  • Screencastify: fe48ab0

Continuing the Learning

While I am still thinking about the best ways for balancing time and efficiency when evaluating digital resources, I am happy with the progress I have made. I plan on continuing to add to my Wakelet collections and sharing them with my colleagues. While not complete I do plan on using the evaluation rubric from Edmentum to look at different resources. I also am going to continue to work on updating and completing a Google Form to make the scoring easier when evaluating different tools. I would love to hear if you have other ways that you evaluate and share digital resources. Also please feel free to add to my Wakelet collections and share any that you create. Let’s continue to learn and grow together in order to continue to engage and empower our students.

References

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4 Responses to Ideas for Evaluating Digital Technology Resources and Sharing What You Learn With Others

  1. Rachel says:

    Megan,

    I really enjoyed your article! We both looked into the same question but it’s so cool to see the way you went into it! I like how you added a what’s next section for what teachers can do after they have gone through the process of evaluating an app. I still need to look into Waklet, so I really appreciated your video. With the form you made, are you thinking about sending it out to teachers in your district? Thank you for sharing!

  2. S. Straume says:

    Lately I, along with all my fellow educators, have been bombarded with offers for free trials for this app, or test runs of another program, and it has been hard for me to identify what to go with. Having these steps of how to go through and evaluate a resource is such a great help.

    Thank you for posting!

  3. Cory Cummings says:

    Megan,

    I had never heard of the evaluation rubric from Edmentum. How awesome! I am really intrigued to explore it more. I agree, I feel like the questions to ask and color-coordinated settings make it very user-friendly. I also love the idea of using Jacqui Murray’s “two steps for quickly evaluating edtech tools.” I think that this would be a really wonderful idea to explore for PD at schools to really give teachers time to spend with a digital tool. I appreciate how you mention that the step of “playing” with the tool is so vital. This builds buy-in from the teacher and comfort with the tool. Thank you for speaking about that. Thanks so much for sharing your Wakelet codes! I would love to view the collections that you’ve made, add some contributions, and create some of my own. I am really excited to explore Wakelet more and also use the evaluation tools you’ve mentioned! Thanks Megan, I learned so much from your blog!!

  4. Doug says:

    Megan, I really like the idea of utilizing a rubric to analyze new teachers tools. Having a “quick and dirty” mechanism for reviewing potential resources is extremely helpful. It feels like there are lists upon lists out there of ed tech tools for teachers. Which is fine, I guess, but how is one to choose? Having a user-friendly rubric seems like a very helpful solution. Edmentum is not a site that I’m familiar with so I’m curious to take a look. Lastly, I really appreciate Wakelet as a curation tool. It’s one of my favorite discoveries over the last year. Great post and thank you for sharing!

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