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Making Decisions about Digital Curriculum, Assessments, and Platforms

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Free product guides for evaluating edtech tools are now available from ISTE. 

How do you distinguish between edtech products that are built well vs. those that are not? Which products are built in a way that naturally aligns with how people learn best? 

These questions are foundational in the edtech selection and buying process, and the need for valid, reliable methods of product assessment are universal across educational organizations at all levels. Through Course of Mind, the International Society for Technology Educators (ISTE) continues to help educators and leaders across the country find well-built digital products and see the best learning impacts.  Dr. Rachel Schechter, the founder of LXD Research, partnered with ISTE to create these product guides as one resource to aid teachers and edtech decision-makers in finding the “best” products.

What’s in the product guides?

Course of Mind has released three separate guides by product type: digital curriculum, formative assessment, and learning management system (LMS). It is important that you choose the appropriate guide because the scoring criteria differ for each category of EdTech products. 

Within each product guide, there are detailed instructions, scoring criteria based on the learning sciences (called “indicators”), and a printable scoring sheet followed by a completed example. The guide provides a definition, description, purpose, and two examples for each indicator.

How can EDTECH DEVELOPERS use the guides?

As a product team, evaluate your current offerings using the scoring worksheet at the end of each product guide. Review each indicator to identify areas of strength and areas that should be improved to better align with the learning sciences. Have open, honest discussions to determine how your product measures up and generate ideas for future development cycles or user research. Highlight the learning sciences in your marketing and discussions with school leaders to help them feel confident that they are investing in high-quality, research-based edtech products. 

How can SCHOOL LEADERS use the guides?

Decide what type of EdTech product you want to evaluate and download the appropriate guide from Course of Mind. Print the scoring sheet at the end of the guide and make copies for each product you will evaluate. Alternatively, you could set aside time for grade level or subject teams to score the EdTech products they currently use and determine if there are similar products that are better grounded in the learning sciences. 

Next, gather samples of each product. These may be trial versions of the website, a sandbox account, or demo videos. Complete the scoring sheet, calculate a total score for each product, and then discuss the results with your teachers!

Get started by downloading the free product guides here