Sensitivity to multiple learning styles and needs
Individual learning is enhanced when the pedagogy is sensitive to a range of learning styles and needs. Students need courseware that delivers an interactive learning experience with audio, video, animations, and interactive practice with automatic feedback that helps them when they have difficulty.
The courseware should also address the needs of students with disabilities, including visual and hearing impairments, so closed-captioning and screen-reading are very important.
In addition, an instructor needs to be able to control the settings of assignments per student because many students with disabilities such as learning disabilities, ADHD, or dyscalculia may need extended time on assignments.
Student performance measurement
Finally, the appropriate pedagogy for all teaching includes the measuring of student performance against a pre-determined set of objectives. Courseware should make it possible for both students and instructors to determine whether or not course objectives are being met. Once students know where weaknesses exist, they need software that will allow them to get help with these weaknesses, and instructors need the courseware to do this automatically by having the ability to produce a customized (personalized) assignment based on those individual weaknesses.
Instructors must be able to access data concerning student performance on objectives so that adjustments can be made to teaching methods and/or assignments. Data like item analysis and time spent on each question are invaluable.
The courseware must be easy to use for faculty and students alike. Explanations to faculty for setting up the software with the appropriate learning resources, homework, and assessments should be clear. The type of course in which the courseware will be used is an important factor to consider. Some courseware packages that work with face-to-face classes can be problematic for online classes. In an online class, you will not only need quality content, but also easily navigable course management tools that allow you to manage your class.
Software should be easy for students to use so that they can focus on learning the course content, not learning the software. In order to compare two software programs, it may be beneficial to create assignments of equivalent length and content and complete those assignments from a student perspective. Note any significant differences between the entry of answers and the time it takes to move from question to question. Your students will be spending hours completing assignments, so the time it takes for exercises to load must be minimal.
- Ease of installation
- Cost to student
- Cost to institution
- Quality and accessibility of technical support
- Vendor willingness to provide training
- Browser restrictions
- Platform restrictions
- Capability for faculty to communicate with students
- Tutorial featuresTextbook included
- Partial credit for multipart questions
- Pooling for tests
- Sophistication of testing mechanism
- Coordinator/master course capability
- Gradebook sorting features
- Ease of ability to export grades
- Feedback after submission
- Ability to print student work
- Multiple attempts allowed on assignments
- Settings for individual students
- Software compatibility with Americans with Disabilities Act