Last August, we published a blog post titled, “5 Things to Look for If Selecting Online Materials.” If your district is, or will be, selecting online materials to support continuous instruction next fall, here are a few additional considerations to keep in mind:
(1) Similarity of content. If you will be purchasing a product in print and digital formats, check the degree to which the core instruction is consistent in both editions. The online version will likely contain videos and tools to enhance students’ learning experiences beyond the capabilities of the print edition, but the core instruction in both editions must be substantially similar to provide an equitable learning experience for students who are not able to access the material online.
(2) Delivery of core instruction. If you are considering a material that relies on digital content or is only available in digital format, consider whether the core instruction (e.g., lessons, practice and quizzes) is printable or accessible offline. Criteria 2 on the second page of our Spec Sheet reveals whether the core instruction of the product is accessible online only or whether it is also printable, downloadable, and/or accessible offline. In order to ensure that the material will support all students, including those that do not have reliable internet service or device access at home, the core instruction must be downloadable or printable.
(3) Ease of Use. Online materials often contain many components. Before purchasing an online material or a material with online components, check to see whether your teachers and students will be able to use it. Have a few tech-savvy and non-tech-savvy teachers (1) login to the material, (2) teach a lesson with the product, and (3) access progress monitoring reports. If possible, have a few students login to the product and access an assigned lesson. Note the issues each group encounters. Finally, check to see what type of online training and support the material includes for teachers, students and even for parents. Allow teachers time to complete that training with support before the school year begins.