Education in this digital age has advanced from the era of one teacher in one classroom where sharing of information is confined. In this contemporary society, the emergence and advancement of technologies have provided access to distant resources, engagement in learning in unique and modern ways, and the avenue to personalize learning. According to Balanko (2002), the evaluation of online resources involves the determination of the educational needs of the resource, how and to what extent to improve the resource and whether the resource has achieved its desired outcomes. Hence, as digital technologies becomes more influential in teaching and learning, there is the need for proper evaluations of the technologies and digital resources which are used in teaching and learning (Attwell, 2006). According to Chickering and Ehrmann (1997), the effectiveness of the use of technologies in education can be achieved if they are in accordance with the following seven rules:
- Encourages contact between students and faculty
- Develops reciprocity and cooperation among the students
- Uses active learning techniques
- Provides prompt feedback
- Emphasizes time on task
- Communicates high expectations and
- Respects diverse talents and ways of learning.
In other words, online and digital teaching and learning resources involves the determination of how well they compares to traditional education models and hence how well they promote learning objectives.
According to the U. S. Department of Education (2008) below, there is need for rigorous evaluations of online learning resources in other to identify their competency and relevance and also provide ideas for improvement. Also, Astleitner (2000) emphasized that it is imperative for students to develop critical thinking skills to apply to online resources since the internet has become a growing source of information for learning.
Many approaches have been developed for evaluating the competency and relevance of technologies and online resources. For example, the Florida Center for Instructional Technology (FCIT) (2016) below, provided a technology integration matrix which; provides a framework for defining and evaluating technology integration, sets clear vision for effective teaching with technology, provides teachers and administrators a common language for setting goals and helps to effectively target professional development resources. Their matrix consists of twenty-five cells which are from the combinations of five levels of technology integration and five characteristics of meaningful learning environments. Several other technology evaluation tools have been published, for example, Walker (2010) created an evaluation rubric for mobile applications, Schrock, (2015) created a student application review rubric which can be used to evaluate the effectiveness of technologies and online resources.
These evaluation practice can be effectively used to determine the effectiveness of technologies and online resources. For example, the evaluation rubric created by Walker (2010) below, was used to evaluate wave interference simulation, an online resource by PHET interactive simulations (University of Colorado, 2016). The result shows that the wave interference simulation was found to be appropriate as it proves to be in consistent with the evaluation domains of the rubric which includes; curriculum connection, Authenticity, feedback, differentiation, user-friendly, motivation and student performance.
The Australian Curriculum and Assessment Reporting Authority (ACARA) (2010), observed the relevance of the acquisition of the skills to evaluate online resources. It stated;
“Students should learn how to use information communication technology with confidence, care, and consideration, understanding its possibilities, limitations and impacts on individuals, group and communities” (ACARA, 2010).
Therefore, the emergence of the use of technology in learning, together with the curriculum demand makes it imperative for educators to master the use and evaluation of technologies as it applies to teaching and learning.