Evaluating Tools for Education

Evidence: Tool evaluation form and evaluation of seven cloud tools (Dec 2014)

OLTD 507 Learning Outcome addressed: Identify appropriate use of cloud tools in an online course


Reflection to Support Evidence:

The first major assignment for OLTD 507 was to create a tool to analyze cloud tools in an educational setting. I chose to create my tool using Microsoft Excel, and tried to make it interactive rather than simply a document to read. I then created a walk-through video of my evaluation form using ActivePresenter (a free screen capture cloud tool).

In order to create the evaluation tool, I had to be clear what my criteria would be regarding tool usefulness. After reviewing various tools and participating in discussions with my cohort, I settled on accessibility, usability and privacy as my top three categories. Within each of these categories, I determined what characteristics would make a tool accessible and useful. I found it challenging to narrow down the list to a manageable number. In terms of accessibility and usability, I went back and reviewed Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and based many of my criteria on those principles. I also included a separate section on features of the tool. This section encourages evaluators to consider what type of learning activity the tool may be best suited for. Is it suitable for group learning or better as an individual tool? Can it provide a variety of ways to show what they know? To establish this list of criteria, I considered different ways of learning and how this learning might be reflected through use of a specific tool.

Being able to choose which tool best fits your learning objectives as well as meets your accessibility, usability and privacy criteria is important as an online educator. With the abundance of cloud tools available, it is easy to be distracted by a tool that looks good but doesn’t actually help meet your objectives. Having an evaluation tool can help educators compare tools based on equal criteria and to carefully consider if the tool meets the needs of both the students and the teacher. In my own practice, I would like to use the form I created to evaluate new tools I may wish to use, as well as share the tool and/or the evaluations with my colleagues as they move into teaching blended courses.

Link to blog post with tool and video

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