New resource will help educators, parents evaluate digital tools

Only one-third of teachers surveyed said they are creating digitally-rich learning environments using tools such as games, animations, and simulations or videos. Just 25 percent said they are providing opportunities for their students to create their own digital content with multimedia tools.

Forty-five percent of technology coordinators and 44 percent of administrators cited a lack of teacher skills as a significant barrier to greater use of digital content.

Teachers and administrators differ on how to evaluate digital resources. Teachers place more value on digital content that is free, created by a teacher, or recommended by a colleague. Principals tend to trust student achievement results from use of the tool first.

Librarians, who often help teachers learn how to evaluate such resources, indicated the following factors when it comes to evaluating digital media:

• Content accuracy (81 percent)
• Ease of use by teachers and students (76 percent)
• Alignment to curriculum standards (73 percent)
• Credibility of the content publishing organization (66 percent)
• Cost (60 percent)
• Level of engagement and interactivity (50 percent)

“… In addition to the roles of digital content cheerleader within their schools, librarians are also increasingly going to be called upon to be the arbitrator of quality and appropriateness for classroom instruction,” the survey report said.

A January 2010 survey from PBS and education research group Grunwald Associates revealed that 76 percent of K-12 educators said they use digital media in the classroom, up from 69 percent in 2008. Of those teachers, 80 percent are frequent or regular users, though digital media use is less common among pre-K educators, with only 33 percent reporting that they are frequent or regular users.

Common Sense Media partnered with SCE, a new social investment foundation that connects talent and innovation with market forces to drive social change. SCE’s Digital Learning program focuses on the potential of digital media technologies to help children learn and practice both traditional and 21st-century skills.

Laura Ascione
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