5 ways of using pupils to evaluate education technology resources

poll.jpgHere’s an idea you might like to try, if you haven’t already: use your pupils to evaluate resources. After all, they’re the ones who are going to be using them! There are five main ways of doing so, not all of which are mutually exclusive. Here they are.

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31 Days to Become a Better Ed Tech Leader -- Day 15: Look at the Resources

A really good leader of educational technology, in my opinion, is one who makes the subject exciting. Students will be there at the start of the lesson, not straggling in 10 minutes after the start. Students and staff alike will want to use the facilities: they won’t need to be cajoled, threatened, or dragged kicking and screaming into your domain. They won’t need to be pleaded with to take a laptop.

At least part of this happy state of affairs is down to the resources available.  So today, have a look at what there is.

What’s the hardware like to use? For example, does it take 10 minutes for all the computers in the computer lab to spring into life when a whole class logs on? Do some of the laptops have keys missing? Are the keyboards filthy? I'm not suggesting you roll up your sleeves and grab some cleaning fluid, but paying attention to these things means that you can get something done about it.

What’s the software like? Is it hard to use? Is it eccentric, in the sense of having completely different to the norm, and therefore unintuitive, commands?

What are the teaching resources like? Are you using a set of books which is boring, out of date and completely uninspiring?

Which websites have been bookmarked for the students to use? And which ones have been blocked? And should they have been?

And that’s it. You may have wi-fi access in every nook and cranny, an internet café, a resources centre that would make the head of the British Library envious. But if the resources of hardware, software and, especially, teaching and learning are dreadful, you need to do something about it.

And the sooner the better.

You may find the following articles useful:

23 factors to consider when evaluating digital resources

12 factors to consider when evaluating books and other paper resources

12 factors to consider when evaluating books and other paper resources

ICT is not just about using computers, and it is useful to have teaching resources such as books from which you can set work. Unfortunately, ICT is still very much in its infancy in this context, compared with other subjects such as Mathematics, Science and English. Nevertheless, there are books out there, and there seem to be more and more titles coming out all the time.

Obtain inspection copies where possible, and ask other ICT teachers what they think of the books or resources you are interested in purchasing. (In the interests of not making life difficult or more expensive for others in the long run, please buy or return inspection copies, and only ask for them in the first place if you are both genuinely interested and have an influence on purchasing.)

  • Will users be able to understand it?
  • What is the layout like? Is it confusing?
  • Is it accurate?
  • Does it meet the National Curriculum requirements?
  • Where appropriate, is it suitable for the examination?
  • Is it suitable for the scheme of work being followed?
  • How easy is it to use for finding information?
  • Is it interesting?
  • Is it challenging?
  • Does it have non-computer based exercises?
  • Are the tasks realistic for the people in your class?
  • Is it good value for money? (It may be cheaper in the long run to buy sets of photocopiable resources than sets of textbooks.)

If you enjoyed reading this article, why not read "23 Factors to consider when evaluating digital resources


23 factors to consider when evaluating digital resources

This article has been superseded by an updated version.

Ask the questions below, perhaps on a form devised for the purpose. Ask other staff and, where appropriate, pupils to do the same. Obtain an evaluation copy if possible, and seek the views of the Local Authority or other advisory person or organisation, and other teachers.

1. What is the name of the resource?

2. What category does it fall into, eg Word Processing, Games?

3. Which computer systems will it work on?

4. How much is it?

5. Where appropriate, how much is a site licence?

6. Is it available via LGfL or another (cheaper) route?

7. What is the printed documentation like? Will users be able to understand it?

8. Is the on-line help good? Will pupils be able to understand it?

9. Do the graphics enhance the program, or distract one's attention?

10. Is the colour scheme too dull, too garish? Is it suitable for sight-impaired pupils?

11. Is the layout good, ie uncluttered, clear?

12. What print options are available?

13. How suitable is it for the classes you want it for?

14. Does it allow access by people with Special Educational Needs?

15. Does it meet the National Curriculum requirements?

16. Where appropriate, is it suitable for the examination in question, such as SATs?

17. Is it suitable for the scheme of work being followed?

18. How easy is it to use?

19. Does it make good use of the computer?

20. Will it attract pupils' interest in the short-term?

21. Will it be able to maintain pupils' interest in the long-term, eg through differentiated tasks?

22. Is it good value for money, taking into account things like the site licence cost?

23. Will it enhance your existing software resources?

Note that most of these questions apply even to free software, because of the opportunity costs involved.

Tomorrow: factors to consider when evaluating books.

Paperless office?

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