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Steps to Evaluate the Value of Educational Technology

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Educational technology can be a powerful tool in improving learning outcomes of students. It can help educators widen the horizons of students and allow them to explore the boundaries of their freedom. It can add value to each teacher's lesson and give greater depth to each school's curriculum. However, in order to utilize educational technology to its maximum potential, educators must take steps to evaluate the value of educational technology in their schools. Below is a step-by-step guideline by which schools can evaluate the value of educational technology as used in their institutions of learning.

Setting Goals

The first thing educators must do is set goals for each program. What do you intend to achieve by making use of a certain technology? Do you plan to increase the literacy rates of your students or are you aiming for greater inter-class participation? Are you making use of this technology to reach a wider number of students or are you aiming for specific, targeted approach to groups of students? Once you decide what your goal as an educator is, you begin to formulate specific targets by which you will measure the effectiveness of the technology being implemented. You develop and identify metrics which will be pertinent in evaluating the effectiveness of certain technologies. You set a number of criteria and standards by which you will grade the performance of your students.

Prepare to contrast information from before and after the use of technology

You must have a baseline by which you can compare your results. Establishing a baseline from which you can gauge whether there was improvement or not is important. The baseline can be a mean average or a specific number. It all depends on the type of data you will be comparing. If the data is more subjective than objective, find a way to make the data objective. For example, if you are trying to compare student behaviors before and after, it might be better to target observable and quantifiable student behaviors, such as number of times they miss school, or number of organizations they have joined.

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Collect and Analyze the Data

Once you've set your goals and developed your rubrics, you must begin collecting data for future analysis. It is important that you try to be as empirical in your data collection as possible. Use surveys, test questions, student grades, and classroom observation to build up your case. Meticulous data collection and reporting is important. You cannot proceed with an accurate analysis if your date is incomplete or incorrect. Set a time limit for your data collection. Once the time limit is up, collate all data and start analyzing.

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Data analysis must include not only the interpretation of numerical factors but also the interpretation of behavioral factors. It must present all data collected and observed in numerical form to allow for scoring.

Using rubrics, give a score for each goals you set

After completing data analysis, give a score for each goal set using the rubrics you developed. Was there a 90% success rate using this certain technology in achieving this goal? Did more students obtain higher grades as a result? If your goal was to increase the number of graduates from your school in passing board exams, were you able to achieve it? If your goal involved changing behaviors, how successful were you when compared to the baseline you recorded from before the implementation of the technology? There must always be a score attached to each goal. When you have finished, present your findings and recommendations to the school board in a final report. Then publish these findings for peer-review.

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