How to Evaluate Websites
Aug 20, 2008 E-Learning/CALL 2868 Views
The effectiveness of online educational resources depends heavily on the context they are used in. However, there are also some basic criteria that should be fulfilled. Here are some important questions to ask when evaluating online educational resources.
o Is the resource authoritative? Is it produced by an authoritative source?
o Will it support students with different learning styles? How does it use media to cater to people with auditory, visual, kinaesthetic or other preferences?
o Does it have links or refer to appropriate stages of the National Curriculum or examination body?
o Does the content make its educational purpose explicit?
o Is the content accurate, up to date, reasonably comprehensive, objective and relevant for the learner, and does it use appropriate vocabulary?
o Is the interface intuitive, with well-organised material and clear navigation?
o Is the content meaningfully interactive, engaging the learner with key content or concepts and not merely creating virtual versions of activities that can take place easily and to better effect without computers (for example, dice-rolling or simulating magnetic attraction)?
o Does the resource provide support and give feedback?
o Does the resource enhance collaborative learning by encouraging learners to discuss problems, share information and ideas and reach group agreement?
o Is the resource technically stable?
Your school may have an internet safety policy that suggests some criteria for the evaluation of internet material. For advice on drawing up such policies, see the DfES Superhighway Safety website.
Online resources should be flexible and adaptable to enable learners with a wide range of needs to use them. For example, some resources can be configured for different visual requirements or reading ages. The most effectively designed content generally has an awareness of the complete range of potential users. For more information, see the Becta Inclusion and SEN area.
Selecting sites for teaching and learning
Here is a suggested structure for reviewing web resources. It is fairly rigorous, but is probably necessary for sites that are to be included in curriculum planning.
1. Initial review
Use the links above to select sites with your learning objectives or educational purpose (curriculum learning or key skills such as communication) in mind. Look at what the site offers in terms of content, structure and supporting teaching and learning. Compile an annotated shortlist of sites.
2. Learner review in pairs / experienced learner review
Ask pairs of pupils already familiar with the curriculum content to review sites and complete the evaluation sheet. Alternatively, gather a range of perspectives by asking subject experts or ICT experts to review resources.
3. Action research review
Once the resource is in use, carry out action research in your classroom, to evaluate its effectiveness.