How to evaluate the best toolkit for your class

How’s your Web2.0 compass? Are you panning for gold; or still looking for the stream?

I often think of Web2.0 as like gold-panning in a flowing steam.

One person finds a spot using a method and pan that works for them. Before you know it, everyone either wants to be in that spot or use the same pan. Some leave the goldfield – winging that they can’t quite replicate the success in the spot they are in, with the gear they have.

I am prepared to accept that I can’t replicate or improve on everything I see others doing, but try to do the most with what I have in the place I am in. I do notice what others are doing; but I’ve long since stopped running up and down the stream looking for a better spot.

There are three core-components needed in effective teaching strategy.

  1. an outcome (what you want them to learn)
  2. an activity (what you going to do the help them learn it)
  3. evaluation (how do you know they learned it)

Classroom teachers should approach using technology from an evaluation perspective, but suspect many use an activity angle – BBBBzzz.

Students want to know – what is it exactly that you want me to do with this?. Why is it important or worthwhile enough for me to pay attention to it?

Nothing Web2.0 is vaguely interesting to youth-online unless it connects them to their friends or builds their personal reputation in spaces that their friends see as important and worthwhile.

When building a toolset for learning – be prepared to see them used for at least a term – consistently. The novelty of using a new app, soon wears thin, and there is no magic app to gain their attention. Stop looking for it.

Be very explicit in telling students what these tools are for – not just what you want them to do. Give even the smallest tool – meaning and purpose in a realistic, personal context

I’ll unpack this using Diigo as an example, but you can use these 5 steps for anything.


How does it

1. give me an insight into children needs
2. help me to identify what works well, so I can build on it
3. help me to identify what doesn’t work so well, so I can address it.
4. promote participation of parents, teachers and the wider community, encouraging them to reflect on children’s educational needs and their own belief and attitudes towards education
5. help me highlight problems and potential solutions which help us to influence education policy at many levels (locally – in our own context, organistations – both nationally and internationally)

Next consider the student perspectivelet them know what they are expected to do with it, using your belief statements. Test your hypothesis.


1. This will allow you and I to share references of websites and information
2. You will be able to show me which things you think matter and together we won’t waste time on less important things.
3. It helps me give you feedback and help; even when we are not in the same room.
4. We can share all our ideas with the class, and the school – so that in the future, other people will know about your work.
5. You can show you parents how and what you are learning – and that helps them better understand why we are using this technology.

At the beginning, I said that this is evaluation.


What you choose and promise must be judged by your students. You must actively collect data and do more than reflect – you must offer evidence – to complete the cycle of empirical research that most teachers are engaged in – consciously or not. By being aware of the cycle; and focusing on the evaluation – teachers are able to use their data as much more than story telling in conferences.


Write a blog post using your evidence.


One thought on “How to evaluate the best toolkit for your class

  1. Absolutely brilliant. Exactly what we as teachers need to do and you have put it together so well.

    Thanks for the post Dean in reminding us why we teach and the best way we can go about it to help our kids as they are the fundamental reason we are in our professions.”)

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