EdTech Evaluation

How to Effectively Evaluate Digital Content

Evaluating digital content (software, programs, applications) can be a difficult thing to do.  Many schools keep the same digital content year after year without changing or evaluating the educational effectiveness of digital content. This method has been delivered to work with committees of educators to evaluate the effectiveness of digital content and to determine if the digital content should be renewed or eliminated.
  1. What was the goal of using this program? (What was the program suppose to teach students?)
  2. What evidence do we have that this program supported the goal (from #1)?
  3. Was their appropriate usage of the program across the grade band, subject or building(s)?
  4. Is the program still aligned with our curriculum, pacing guides, frameworks, maps, etc?
  5. Did this program provide actionable data that was useful for educators?
  6. Does this program still support one of the main areas of the PLSD Plan 4 Progress? (Personalized Learning, Whole Child and Relationships, Authentic Experiences and Professional Learning)
  7. Does this program still support the PLSD 21st Century skills?
  8. Are there any major changes to the program since it was last evaluated?
  9. Are they any flaws that are preventing the effective use of the program?
  10. Do the students like the program?
  11. Has the training been appropriate for the educators?
  12. Is there anything we need from the vendor before we renew a contract for another year?
  13. Obtain a quote for what you will be recommending.
  1. What does this digital content allow our students to learn?
  2. How will this meet the needs of our students better than what we were using?
  3. What research is available to show this will improve student learning?
  4. How will this help increase student engagement?
  5. How will this differentiated and allow for personalized learning?
  6. How will this align with our current curriculum frameworks, maps, pacing guides, assessments, etc?
  7. Is the digital content adaptive or same content for all students?
  8. What are the flaws of the new digital content?
  9. What data will this digital content provide, is the data usable, is the data exportable (to be used in different data programs), are there reports showing student progress?
  10. Does this program align properly with curriculum and district goals…or is this just the next shiny thing?
  11. Does this foster dialogue and empowerment among our students…or more compliance?
  12. How will leaders provide the essential resources and training to make sure the initiative works?
  13. Is the digital content easy to use (intuitive) or will it take time to train?
  14. How are we sure that this will not be one of those programs that we will need to get rid of next year?
  15. How does this program support the Pickerington Schools 21st Century Skills?

Additional Questions for the Vendor:

  1. Where have you seen this digital content used so that it produces effective results?
  2. Where have you trained teachers so they can uniformly perform within the guidelines of this digital content product?
  3. Where is the data that show you have achieved performance that is superior to that achieved by other programs?
  4. Where have you seen historically successful teachers (those whose students outperform demographic predictions)?
  5. Explain your customer support process if we have a problem with your product.
  6. Explain your pricing structure?
    1. District License? Building License?
    2. Per student or Per teacher
    3. Obtain a quote for what you will be recommending.

The missing component (and our next steps) is to determine how the aspects of Learning Science can be utilized to determine the effectiveness of digital content. We are currently working with ISTE to develop those metrics.