A detailed checklist for evaluating instructional tools is available here.
- Licensing: Does the company offer a license that allows for commercial use? Commercial and/or CC BY licenses generally work best. Tools with a share-alike license are eligible for use but content created must be available for free public access.
- Ownership: Who owns the content we create using the tool? This information may be in the company’s Terms and Conditions or EULA. If it is not stated clearly, our Licensing team will need to ask the company for clarification.
- File Type: What is the final output from the tool? Note that HTML5 or standard video/audio formats are preferred. We will not include flash-based tools.
- Hosting: Who will be hosting the content? Can we download the file directly and keep in perpetuity? Will it be on the tool’s cloud (and thus subject to potential outage issues, software updates, or subscription changes)?
- Data Security/Privacy: The tool should meet all of the following requirements: 1) personal data is protected unless otherwise specified by user; 2) students retain rights to any content they create in the tool (regardless whether you as an author own the rights to the activity generally); 3) any grade information is protected in accordance with FERPA standards. Note that instructors may be able to access student data via LTI/SCORM but still meet the above conditions.
- Accessibility: These are ideal minimum requirements for use; the best tools will be designed with UDL principles in mind beyond providing alternative formats. Note that if the tool does not meet WCAG standards or have a VPAT documented, we may be able to combine tools or customize the code to meet those standards, but we’d like to document the base functionality here.
Ease of Use
- Reliability: Is the site always available (especially at peak times of day)? Is it slow to load? Have users (in online forums) reported any issues affecting student learning? How reputable is the company?
- UI (Authors): Is it easy for our editorial and production teams to see how to use the tool to build activities?
- UI (Students): Is it easy for students to understand how to use the tool?
- Ads: Will students see any ads?
- Fun Factor: Does the tool allow you to be creative during the learning process? Are the activities engaging for students?
- Mobile: Is the tool designed for desktop and mobile access? For mobile, will it be a sovereign app (takes up entire screen – preferable)?
- Browsers: Can users effectively use the tool with any standard, up-to-date browser?
- Customization: How much flexibility is there for designers to customize the content to learning goals?
- Integration with Existing Tools: How will the content integrate with our current tools?
- Versioning: Does the tool allow for tracked changes (or, at a minimum, the ability to export and archive multiple versions)?