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Thoughts on Evaluating New EdTech Tools

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AnnualISTE Conferencehappening this week. This is the time when most of the big companies in the US education technology market are introducing their new offerings, and smaller companies are trying to make their mark.

Going to the ISTE conference can be an exciting time to see all the new “shiny” things. Unfortunately, I won’t be going this year. I’ll be following #ISTElive on Twitter to see what people are excited about. In times like these, it’s important to remember to look at new edtech products with a critical eye and think about how these products can truly improve the student learning experience.

The framework I’ve used for years to evaluate new edtech products is a simple discovery, discussion, and demonstration framework. I have explained this in detail inthis is a videowhich I posted a couple of years ago. Highlights are below.

Opening

Does the product or service help students discover information that is new to them? If so, I’ll spend some time studying it to see if it’s worth using in the classroom. Some products and services that fit into this categorySearch Google Booksmany augmented and virtual reality applications such as Merge Cube and digital mapping platforms such as ArcGIS Story Maps and Google Earth.

Discussion

Can the service or product help teachers facilitate discussion beyond normal classroom conversations? These are tools that can give shy students a chance to express themselves, as well as give chatty students a chance to express themselves. Flipgrid does this well as wellSynthesis.

Demonstration

Can the tool or service help students demonstrate their knowledge and skills in a new and interesting way? For some students, it could be as simple as a new Google Slides or PowerPoint feature that helps them make a better presentation. For other students, it might be creating a green screen video. And for other students, it might be developing their own games or mobile apps to show off their programming knowledge or concepts (MIT App Inventor is great for this,here’s how to use it).

Can it be done just as well without technology?

A final thought on evaluating new edtech products that I shared in a private webinar last week. Structure is great, but an even easier way to think about new edtech products is to ask yourself, “Could this be done as well without technology?” If the answer is yes, then maybe this product is not worth spending a lot of time on.

Webinars in July and August!

Sign up for one or all seven of themright here.

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