Quick check your tech

Check Your Tech: Some Tips to Evaluating Digital Tools

Each year, we’re adopting new tech tools to our classrooms. But are we spending an adequate amount of time checking out their quality? Probably not. And why sweat it? What would be the impact of not spending enough time on the learning theory or intended use of the tool?

Here are some factors to consider when addressing these concerns:

-      How long will it take to implement the tool in the classroom?

-      Does this tool displace another learning experience?

-      Which gaps are you trying to close with this tool?

-      Are you spending a lot of money on the tool?

Here are a few helpful tips when screening the digital world before bringing it into your classroom:

1.     Define The Why

Like with any part of a curriculum, think about the how and why a tool works to improve student learning. Be clear in recognizing how it is innovative or unlike other teaching practices you already use. Ask yourself, “Is this tool really changing the learning experience?”

2.     Use It Like A Student

Make a test account and explore the essential features of a tool. Approach it as a high-achieving student and as a struggling student. What issues do you face when using it? How can you overcome these obstacles? What happens if a student makes an error? Consider how this will impact your students’ performance.

3.     Have A Pilot Group

Before launching an initiative school-wide, pluck a handful of students to take the tool for a test drive. Do they understand how to use it? Will it be accessible outside the parameters of the classroom? Are they enjoying the experience?  Look out for differences within the group & take into account the socio-economic and cultural implications. Does the tool cover the range of your students? These are important to think about before applying it across the curriculum.

4.  Like Everything, There is A Tool To Help You

Lastly, we also recommend the Kokoa Standard. The Kokoa Education Standard was created specifically to help teachers and learners find the best possible digital tools for learning. How the service works is quite simple. A company submits their learning app for evaluation and it is compared against a database of learning science principles. The evaluation includes learning goals and outcomes, engagement and pedagogical approach. Subsequently, the company receives detailed feedback on the product and, if successful, is awarded the ‘Kokoa Education Standard’ certificate. Thus, doing all of the work above (and more) for you! You can search their site to see if a tool you’re considering has the Kokoa stamp of approval.

For more information about Kokoa click here.

Edee is the Social Communicator for Newschool .