(This post is a continuation of our 12 Questions series. The first two posts can be viewed here and here.)
#7 Who created these resources?
It is important to consider the source of content you use in your classroom. Verify that the resources you are considering are research-based. Find out whether they were created by educational publishers, teachers, researchers, or a software company. Would you want a software programmer or graphic designer with no education degree teaching in your classroom? Is it logical that a researcher should be designing lessons for fifth graders if they have never taught fifth graders? Educational content written by educators with recent classroom experience may contain effective strategies and methods learned only by teaching concepts directly to students. Content designed by educators is usually organized and presented in ways that are simple and intuitive for other educators and students.
Equally important is the country in which the content was created. Find out if the content was created by educators in your country based on your standards and benchmarks or if it was created in another country and had to be modified to fit your country’s curriculum. If it was modified, check what modifications were made to language, vocabulary, and teaching strategies as they vary greatly from country to country. If considering purchasing resources that were developed in another country, look closely at their user statistics and research. Does the product have a customer base and research on effectiveness in your country?
#8 Can I search by standards? Can I search by my publisher-based curriculum?
At the very least, a product should provide a way for you to view which state and/or national standards are aligned to each of their resources. At the very best, a product will provide a way for users to search and find content aligned to each specific state and/or national standard. (This is particularly helpful when searching for interventions based on results from standardized testing.)
A hard-to-come-by but very useful time-saving feature is the ability to search and find resources aligned to each unit/lesson/chapter in specific publisher-based curriculums. In addition to being a time saver for teachers, this search validates the digital content by closely tying it to your district’s specific curriculum.
#9 Do these resources include voiceovers?
Voiceovers add value and increased functionality to interactive content. They help to differentiate instruction and to engage auditory learners. If voiceovers are present in paid content, they should sound professional, be of an appropriate accent for your country, and preferably offer the option to be turned on or off depending on the needs of specific students.
(This post is the third in a series of four. Stay tuned for more questions to ask!)