Evaluating E-Texts and Other Instructional Materials

As teachers get involved in evaluating new instructional materials, they frequently ask “Is this going to work with our Macs?”  It’s taken a few years to really realize all of the ins/outs of the already-adopted textbooks’ digital assets.  As we are presented new instructional materials from the state, we get to be really picky.

This year, I developed and trained our textbook evaluation teams on this rubric, which awards points for being more digitally convenient.  Many of our older adoptions rely on Flash, which will be disappearing from browsers pretty soon.  I emphasized that any teacher being pitched a book that uses Flash immediately disqualify it.  Publishers have seen this on the horizon for a while, and the companies I want to work are strategically planning for Flash being discontinued.

The rubric takes into considerations of single-sign-on options and integration with our student information system, PowerSchool.  We’ve learned that teachers more quickly use digital resources if they are ready and assigned “out-of-the-box”. Translation: textbooks are rostered and accounts are made without the teacher having to set anything up.  Teachers are used to picking up textbooks, not spending hours doing the clerical uploads of usernames and passwords for students.  But not all publications are created equal, and this rubric helps teachers balance their content and resource considerations with the workflow and access considerations.

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