access from any computer anytime. Installation-based options require installation on your school’s server or on individual computers where the content will be used. Access to this type of locally hosted content is not dependent on an internet connection.
As with any type of soſtware, basic computer operating requirements should be explored. Many content providers offer a free trial which should be taken advantage of to test how the content performs on your specific hardware. Beyond the basics, you should also consid- er whether the content requires a specific program to operate.
For example, if content is created in SMART Notebook soſtware, that soſtware must be installed on every computer on which you will want to access the content; and if you change IWB soſtware or use multi- ple brands of IWB soſtware within your building, the content will only be accessible by teachers with access to SMART Notebook.
#12 Is there added value or addition- al costs?
Choosing the right content is only the first step. Te qual-
ity of the professional development will determine the effectiveness of its use with your teachers. Find out the professional development plans offered by the content provider. Are there on-demand video and webinar options for teachers who want to get started right away? Are there user guides for teachers who like a printed reference? What is
the cost for personalized profes- sional development? Is it conduct- ed via webinar or in person?
Investigate the company’s abili- ty to support your teachers aſter the initial professional develop- ment. What additional training is available and at what cost? Does the company have a newsletter or periodic emails to help teachers progress in their knowledge of the content and how to use it most effectively.
Te type of professional develop- ment is also important. A content company should offer not only initial professional development to help teachers learn to navigate the program and find appropriate content, but it should also provide training on how to integrate that content into classroom instruc- tion. Particularly as teachers make the shiſt to the Common Core, they will need to have professional development on how to integrate digital content into their instruc- tion in ways that are supported by the Common Core.
Keeping in mind that teachers are always pressed for time and that each teacher is as unique as each student in their technological skills, consider ease of use when choosing your content solution.
Professional development is always necessary to be sure you are getting the best return on your content in- vestment. However, if your teach- ers are spending days of valuable professional development time just trying to learn how to navigate a program, that leaves little time for learning how to use that content effectively. Be sure to ask how much professional development is required to get teachers up and running with the content and how
much is required to show them how to use that content effectively.
If your chosen content includes a classroom management system, find out if the company will create your teacher and student accounts so your teachers don’t have to spend their valuable time enter- ing data. And be sure to ask if the account creation service is free or at an additional cost. And remem- ber to ask whether there will be assistance with account creation every year or just the first year of purchase.
Always take advantage of free trials offered by content providers to facilitate your evaluation, yet keep in mind that the trial may only offer access to a portion of the available content. Contact the con- tent provider or attend an online demonstration for a more thorough evaluation of both the content and the company.
As schools increasingly invest in technology hardware, teachers will need content to use those technolo- gies effectively. All educators must be informed digital content advo- cates to help their schools select quality content that provides the most value.
twelvequestions to download the 12 questions in an easy to use table format to assist with your personal content evalua- tions.
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