Tips to Choose The Best Technology Solution For Your School
Over the past few years, there has been an exponential increase in technological innovations, especially in the educational sector. Numerous technological resources have been introduced to aid the teaching-learning process in a day-to-day classroom setting. Since these tools have been proven to make classroom sessions interactive and relatable to the 21st-century digital learners, it is important to take a well-informed decision about their selection. However, school managements are often more interested in incorporating the latest technology available in the market than using the resource which best fulfils the needs of their learners. Due to this, a disconnect arises between the purpose for which the tool was designed, the PURPOSE for which it is being used, the COMPETENCY with which it is being used and the IMPACT it may have on the learners.
It is, therefore, important for a school to possess a tool which enables them to evaluate the various resources available to them against their learners’ academic profile and socio-cultural contexts. It must also give them an objective view on various e-learning resources to help them make the best choice based on the requirements of the school. In addition, the schools should keep in mind the changing needs of their learners before formulating their Information and Communications Technology (ICT) policy. They should also be willing to modify and amend their ICT policy according to demands of the situations.
Before investing in a resource, the school management should further consider the teachers’ existing ICT-based skill sets, their views on integrating ICT in schools, and their attitude towards improving instructional practices while using ICT. In addition, schools should build appropriate structures and processes – facilities for teachers to engage and practise the ICT tools available, and comprehensive training programs – to enable teachers to improve their ICT competencies.
One such tool, called ‘Learning Objective Evaluation Instrument’ has been developed by the Educational Technology Lab at IIT Bombay after a seven-year research. The tool has been used, tried and tested by hundreds of teachers to do away with subjectivity while evaluating a tool. The instrument is designed based on content quality (6 questions), pedagogical alignment (16 questions), and technology integration (8 questions). It is in the format of a rubric where each question is evaluated on a four-point Likert scale that contains descriptions of how well the technological resource addresses the evaluation criteria at different levels, such as Missing (score 0), Inadequate (score 1), Almost (score 2), Target (score 3).
The content dimension of the instrument addresses questions on content accuracy including updates related to recent and relevant advances; contextualisation of content and assessments; and consistency in the spelling, grammar, pronunciation and formatting throughout the module. The pedagogy dimension addresses questions on the explicitness and correctness of learning outcome statements; alignment between the lesson plan and learning objectives; definition of prerequisite knowledge; diversity of content, comprehensiveness of examples; ability to address and diagnose students’ misconceptions and develop higher order thinking skills (HOTS) among students; conversational style of audio-visual modules; integration of various aspects of the module in a meaningful manner through lesson plans, corrective and explanatory feedback provided to students through activities or assessment questions; and finally, the adequate representation of diversity in the modules. The technology integration dimension addresses questions on instructional and motivational purposes served by the graphics, such as, whether visualisations and interactive features correspond to content types and promote meaningful learning; whether the user interface is friendly for novice users, and whether sufficient guidance is provided to teachers on the effective use of various components of the module.
The answers to all questions in the rubric provide a comprehensive data and information on the technological resource, which in turn, act as an aid to school management and decision-makers in choosing the most appropriate resource for their school.
LOBE, as mentioned, is a tried and tested tool. It has been designed and created after a seven-year long research at IIT-Bombay as a rubric to evaluate digital learning objects. It is a quality check tool for all ed-tech companies and a ready reckoner for schools to review all digital learning products available for them before making a selection to adopt one for their school.
At Next Education, we use the customised version for interactive whiteboards to evaluate Teach Next, our flagship product which is an interactive whiteboard and hence a digital learning object.
LOBE is used to evaluate Teach Next content at the ideation level, at the storyboard level, the final post-production stage and even to map content from a school’s perspective. This is done to ensure quality and pedagogical soundness. The procedure is in line with our core values of quality and transparency.