How do you decide upon an educational product? Do you use a systematic process, go with your gut, choose what is most popular, or perhaps go with suggestions from trusted colleagues? The task of sifting through thousands of options can be overwhelming, evening impossible. However, when you do look at a product or narrow down your list, there are resources to help you evaluate it. This is not a 5-minute process, but if you are going to make a significant investment and/or make a decision that impacts students, it calls for a deliberate, systematic review. A careful review of educational products is hard work, but our students are worth it. In fact, you could even involve students in using one or more of these tools to help review products.
9 Questions for Evaluating Educational Innovation – This short document gives you a helpful list of important questions to ask when you are evaluating educational products. It is simple but gets at many of the important factors to consider when selecting a product or service.
The Pearson Efficacy Framework – Pearson Education created a framework for evaluating the efficacy of educational products. This report outlines that process. It is a longer document (56 pages), but it is well worth the time and effort to read. It will give you a robust understanding of what sort of factors to consider when you are reviewing educational products.
The Online Efficacy Tool – This is really just an extension of last resources. It is a link to a tool created by Person to evaluate educational products. It will take you through the review of a product based upon outcomes, evidence, planning and implementation and capacity to deliver (the broad categories included in the Pearson Efficacy Framework).
Conducting and Report Product Evaluation Research – Many companies provide “research” to back up the value of their product. This document is a guide for companies on how to conduct such studies of their products. It comes from the Software and Information Industry Association. Reading this will give you a better understanding of how to judge the quality of a research report about a given educational product.
How to Evaluate Educational Software and Products – This is an old resource (from 2000), but the list of things to consider/review is still excellent. It is a short two-page resource with a robust list of considerations.