How do I quickly evaluate and select between eLearning tools?

The rise of eLearning tools is rapidly increasing. It is difficult, maybe impossible for any one person to keep up on the latest tools, the various possibilities, or the best fit for meeting teaching practices. Yet, instructors are the best decision-makers when it comes to selecting eLearning tools and technologies that are going to best suit classroom practices. At the Centre for Teaching and Learning, we’ve developed a rubric to help inform the selection and evaluation of eLearning tools.

The rubric is intended to guide instructors in their review of 8 categories: Functionality; Accessibility; Technical; Mobile Design; Privacy, Protection, & Rights; Social Presence; Teaching Presence; and Cognitive Presence. It can be used to predictively evaluate any eLearning tool that an instructor is considering for meeting teaching and learning needs. By eLearning tool, we mean some kind of digital technology, mediated through the use of an internet-connected device, that is designed to support student learning.

How to Use the Rubric for eLearning Tool Evaluation

Access the complete rubric here. Once you have an eLearning tool in mind for review, use each category, criterion, and descriptor of the rubric as your guide to investigate and evaluate the tool’s affordances and limitations. Note that sometimes a rubric criterion is not applicable to a tool. The rubric is meant to be flexible as it is applied to a wide range of tools.

Overall, it is up to the instructor’s own judgement to determine if minor or serious concerns warrant abandonment of the tool. However, here at Western there are a few overall concerns that are advised as deal-breakers when it comes to using technologies:

  • The tool hosts sensitive student information (specifically name, contact information, student number and/or any grades) on external servers and the tool has not been reviewed by WTS Risk Assessment Process
  • Use of the technology violates Western University’s Guidelines on the Use of Online and Digital Resources

Reviewed Tools

Each tool featured on the Western eLearning Toolkit has been reviewed by eLearning Specialists using the rubric. Each tailored review is available online for the community to access. Before you conduct a review of your own, check to see if a completed review is already available by searching the Toolkit.

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