Multimedia Software Evaluation Form for Teachers

Article excerpt

Software Evaluation Form for Teachers

The Project

Schools are currently receiving increased funds for multimedia software for classrooms. There is a need for good software in the schools, and there is a need to know how to evaluate software and not naively rely on advertisements. Evaluators of multimedia software for education must have the skills to critically evaluate and make decisions not only about format, but also content and the process of learning. The evaluation form developed in this paper is a simple and practical product that presents a balanced set of guidelines for evaluating and selecting educational multimedia software.

Several national organizations (e.g. ISTE) and states (e.g. Alabama) have announced their technology standards for teacher certification, teachers, administrators and students in the past two years. These two events show the importance of using quality software evaluation forms for teaching and developing student evaluation skills and to know "what to look for." As more schools use multimedia software, teachers are increasingly having their students use the programs for a variety of learning activities. Many teachers are finding multimedia software to be a valuable teaching tool that offers a bonanza of learning activities for students. Teachers must give students materials that are not offensive, outdated, or biased. Teachers need to provide objective data regarding the instructional effectiveness of the multimedia software before purchase.

The purpose of this project is to develop a multimedia software evaluation form that engages pre-service teachers in the selection of materials for development of instructional activities that can be used in multidisciplinary environments. The form is diagnostic and prescriptive.

The authors looked at the current software evaluation tool being used at the authors' university and determined it needed to be upgraded to meet the new advances in computer software. Pre-service teachers need to gain knowledge of the components of good software (e.g. content, ease of use, design, etc.). A review of "what's out there" was conducted to see if there was a current evaluation form that could be adopted and to see what the research said should be in an evaluation form. Most of the evaluation forms concentrated on the technology and mechanics and did not look at pedagogy and content. It was also noted that there is no standard evaluation criteria or common terminology. The authors decided to develop an evaluation form with the purpose of the project to provide an evaluation and selection instrument of multimedia software that met the requirements of some balance between mechanics, content and pedagogy that is user friendly.

The Pilot

This project consisted of the development of an evaluation form for multimedia software programs for teaching pre-service teachers how to evaluate multimedia software programs for their classes, schools, students, and individual use. However, the form can be used by in-service teachers and anyone else with knowledge of multimedia software. Students were given an assignment to use the form to evaluate three instructor provided multimedia software programs. Students will learn to use the form to evaluate different types of software components (e.g., tutorial, drill & practice, simulation, instructional games, branching, problem solving, etc.).

The initial trial of the evaluation form was done using students who were taking their introduction to technology class on line (Group 1) and students who were taking the class in-resident (Group 2). Students in the Group 1 were asked without instruction on the form to evaluate three software packages. Students in the Group 2 were asked to evaluate three software packages but were given instruction on the evaluation form. There were 25 software packages that the students could evaluate. The expert score was arrived at averaging three technology professors' scores. …