Whether print or digital, learning outcomes should be at the center of every tool you bring into the classroom. Many edtech tools can help students study content like mathematics and history. Other tools focus on skills like reading, writing, collaboration, and digital citizenship. Decide which learning goals the tool will help you achieve and make sure you have a plan to assess whether your students are meeting these outcomes! If a site includes student performance data and academic rubrics, that can help!
2. How easy is the tool to use?
Time is a precious resource! Make sure to pick tools that are easy to use from start to finish. If it takes you and your students multiple class periods just to get started, the tool might not be worth it. Consider how accessible the tool is for you and your students. Can the tool be used on the devices in your classroom? Is it important for students to be able to log-on from the computer lab, library or at home?
We love tools that share a syllabus, rubrics, or an instructional calendar to help plan. These resources can help you figure out exactly how much time each student should spend online in order to meet his or her learning goals.
3. Is it safe for my students?
4. Is their support team available to help?
Asking a question and not receiving an answer can be pretty frustrating. Before making the decision to bring an new tech tool into your classroom, send the support team an e-mail or tweet and see how long it takes for them to write you back!
5. What are other teachers saying?
What better time to discover and share resources than the start of a new year! When picking technology, see what other teachers have to say. Are other teachers using the learning tool? How are they using it in their classrooms? What are common problems that you might anticipate? Remember, if you’re having a hard time finding teachers to ask, search the company’s name on Twitter or use the hashtags #edchat and #edtech to connect and learn from educators outside your school site or district.
6. Is it fun and engaging?
Make sure the learning tools you bring into your classrooms are fun and engaging for both your students AND yourself. If it looks dull, boring, and feels like a quiz, your students won’t be engaged for long and won’t stay motivated. If the teacher dashboard is packed with information and hard to read, you’ll find reasons to avoid it. Pick tools that will be as fun for you to implement and maintain as it will be for your students.
Some other questions to consider: How much does it cost? Does it align with my classroom focus? Do I have access to the technical resources necessary (bandwidth, load times, compatibility with Edmodo/ Google Classrooms, installation requirements etc)?
What other questions do you think about when looking for technology to bring into the classroom? Have a tool that you're interested in trying out in the classroom? Let us know! We’d love to hear your thoughts and share your resources with our teacher community.
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