These Sites Offer a Variety of Approaches and Depth in Their Education Technology Resource Reviews
Who doesn't appreciate online reviews as a potential source of useful feedback about products and services they are considering buying? Even better, some online resources specialize in in-depth reviews of certain products. Consumer Reports is a great example – they've been around for years, providing informative reviews and comparisons of a wide array of consumer products and services.
So how about education technology products? Are there reliable reviews of these available on the World Wide Web? Well, yes, there are … in fact, there are a growing number of resources focused on meeting this demand.
Here are 4 sites that provides structured reviews of various types of educational and instructional technology products and services.
This site started in 2013 and got a fair amount of attention. Bill Gates teamed with Common Sense Media to launch this effort (Gates blogged about it here).
If you are not already familiar with Common Sense Media, they have been providing excellent, well structured reviews of media resources like movies and books, for years. Their focus is on how appropriate such media are for youngsters. I have turned to them often when I wanted to get a sense of whether or not a movie I was considering watching with my daughter was appropriate for her age (and to get a sense of whether or not other kids, and parents, thought it was any good).
- App Flows: Customizable frameworks that redefine the traditional lesson plan, integrating digital tools and content with pedagogical insights.
- The Common Core Explorer: “Find the best digital products for your curriculum by using intuitive filters that quickly guide you through the Common Core State Standards and surface products.”
- The “Teacher Center“: Includes Webinars and Videos, and a way to get Certified as a Graphite reviewer.
Graphite is absolutely worth checking out.
App Ed Review
Those who are familiar with EmergingEdTech know that we feature an article from App Ed Review once a month. Todd Cherner and Alex Fegley have created a great resource providing rubric-assessed reviews of iOS apps, and they are hoping to expand into Android apps in the near future.
Each and every app reviewed by App Ed Review is analyzed against a comprehensive rubric in a consistent, informative manner by a panel of state-certified teachers. In addition, each review includes 3-5 instructional ideas for how to integrate the app into your teaching! I'm a big fan.
The EdSurge EdTech Index
EdSurge has categorized about 1500 products so far, using 5 main categories (Curriculum Products,Teacher Needs,School Operations,Post Secondary, and “Everything Else”) and dozens of subcategories to provide an easy to use interface to learn about “ed tech” tools and services. The structure behind EdTech Index makes it easy for educators to learn about products in a just a couple of clicks.
The information provided for each product includes “Characteristics” (such as whether it is free or licensed, and tags associated with functionality, like “$Fundraising” or “Assessment”); Audience (“K-12”, for example), and sometimes Platform (i.e. “Browser-Based”). Each page for a given product or service may have a video and a more in-depth write up as well.
The EdSurge EdTech Index is definitely a useful resource.
Edshelf appears to be a crowd-sourced approach to finding “the right educational tools for your needs”. Users create reviews of tools and organize them into “Collections”. Once a product is added to the database, others can rate it as well, allowing for an accumulation of insights, similar to what happens on Amazon.com.
Rating criteria on Edshelf include:
While the idea is laudable, and it would seem to be worth stopping be Edshelf and looking at their ratings if you are considering a specific product or service, the site returned a fair amount “application errors” while I was browsing it as I wrote this. Hopefully that was temporary and will be resolved.
Have you used sites like these to learn about ed tech products? Do you have any insights to offer EmergingEdTech readers? Comments are invited and welcomed!