By their own admission, the U.S. Department of Education has recognized that technology “…infuses classrooms with digital learning tools, such as computers and hand held devices; expands course offerings, experiences, and learning materials; supports learning 24 hours a day, 7 days a week; builds 21st century skills; increases student engagement and motivation; and accelerates learning.” Teaching, and what is used to increase learning, should always be purposeful. With new technology released daily, it can be difficult to determine the most effective technology tools.
When used properly and chosen wisely, incorporating software, hardware, or other technology associated accessories in the classroom can promote learning, problem-solving skills, and increase critical thinking. To use, as well as spend sensibly, one must look past big budget advertisements and the slick marketing schemes. Otherwise, several resources are wasted on bad decisions—time and money. Instead, look at three recommended techniques to assist with making wise decisions when choosing technologies: 1) research provided by educators that demonstrate real results, 2) Southeast’s Teaching with Technology padlet that offers tried and true uses of technology on this campus, and 3) tools such as the Rubric for eLearning Tool Evaluation provided by the Creative Commons organization.
With an identified goal of using technology in support of student learning, the Rubric for eLearning Tool Evaluation can assist in providing a thorough review of digital technology, such as a computing device. This rubric offers a complete
overview by addressing the functional, technical, and pedagogical aspects of the proposed technology. Devices are graded based on eight categories: functionality, accessibility, technical, mobile design, privacy, social presence, teaching presence, and cognitive presence. Each category has three or four criteria to assist in evaluating the effectiveness of a tool. The criterion can receive a rating of works well, minor concern, or serious concern. To see an example of this system, click here.
While some technology is free, i.e., apps, other technologies can come at a hefty price. Cost should never be the only concern, though. Technology in the classroom or in a course should only be used when it actually helps support learning goals or the art of teaching. Before diving in and choosing a technology: perform the necessary research, review Southeast’s Teaching with Technology padlet, and use the Rubric for eLearning Tool Evaluation. Furthermore, consider applying these guidelines to evaluate whether current technology used in your courses is beneficial for your student learning and teaching objectives.
Emily Cieslewicz, IT User Services and Martha Henckell, Ed.D. Director of Academic Technologies
Anstey, Lauren, and Gavan Watson. “A Rubric for Evaluating E-Learning Tools in Higher Education.” EDUCAUSE Review, EDUCAUSE, 10 Sept. 2018, https://er.educause.edu/articles/2018/9/a-rubric-for-evaluating-e-learning-tools-in-higher-education?utm_source=Informz&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=ER#_zsBf3Le1_zlRxCS5.
Use of Technology in Teaching and Learning. (n.d.). Retrieved May 7, 2019, from https://www.ed.gov/oii-news/use-technology-teaching-and-learning.