Technology Evaluation Checklist for Learning Professionals (Free Download)

We are living in the digital revolution and, much like the industrial revolution, progress is truly exponential. We hear about a new smartphone, new app, new technology every single day. With so many new technologies on the market, how do you sort through the irrelevant and the junk? There are some amazing things out there you could be missing… but other “technologies” just turn out to be a waste of time.

Assessing New Technology

Why do we have a checklist?

Bottom-Line Performance President Sharon Boller developed Technology Evaluation Checklist for herself to help the company make smarter technology adoption decisions. Lots of new tech sounds exciting… but all that glitters isn’t gold. We needed away to objectively evaluate technologies and separate the good from the bad. After having some success using the checklist internally, Sharon presented on evaluating technologies with the checklist to the Central Indiana chapter of ASTD… and the responsive was positive. It turns out others were looking for a tool to evaluate new technologies, just like we were.

Technology Evaluation Process


Scan:The process starts with scanning for technologies that are even relevant. Make sure you’re connected with blogs, social networks, colleagues, conferences, etc. to see what’s hot or making people curious. You should also follow thought-leaders to see where their energy and discussions are focused. From what you gather, pay attention to the tech that relates to things you do most.

Focus: It’s still about need. You need to be concerned with specifically aligning new technologies with needs you have. Just because everyone is buzzing about a hot new app, that doesn’t mean it’s right for your organization. If you don’t have a need for it, it’s just a waste of time and effort. You need to match hot technologies to your needs, efforts, or emerging issues. Don’t try to focus on everything at once. Note: Find a tool to help you track what you’re focusing on—Evernote, Pocket, or a shared writeboard of some kind. Make sure everyone is on the same page.

Evaluate: Once your focus is established, you can do a deeper dive on relevant technologies. Start researching pricing options and sign up for free trials if possible. This is the primary stage for using the checklist. Here is where you consider the costs, risks, gains, etc. Make sure to talk with your colleagues when evaluating. Much like when you’re play testing a game, a fresh new perspective can help you catch things you may have missed.

Decide: Based on your evaluation you can decide to implement the new technology, ignore it, or monitor it for possible re-evaluation later—maybe a tool would be great for your company if you grew slightly larger in the next year or so.


#DevLearn Edition of #TalkTech: Big Changes for Apple, MOOCs in Education and Jon Landau’s Presentation at DevLearn

#TalkTech is the “flipped” approach to Twitter chats. We publish all the topics a few hours before the chat so you can show up at 3 pm EST / 12 pm PST on Thursdays ready to discuss.

The bosses are in Vegas for DevLearn and they left me, the intern, in charge of #TalkTech. Luckily there’s been plenty of tech drama and excitement this week for those of us still at home, so let’s chat!

Topic 1: What’s next for Apple?

Browett and Forstall are leaving Apple.

Browett and Forstall are leaving Apple.

Somebody call Perez Hilton, because Apple is at the forefront of celebrity gossip in the tech world this week. The company just announced Scott Forstall, iOS software chief and creator of Maps and Siri, and John Browett, head of retail, will be leaving. Forstall, known as “mini-Steve,” will be staying on until the end of the next year to serve as an adviser to CEO Tim Cook. Browett, who just took over in April, will be leaving before the holiday season. What is Mr. Cook’s plan for the company and how will it affect consumers’ perceptions and consumption of Apple products?

Big Changes for Apple

Topic 2: How will MOOCs impact learning and education?

Antioch University is the first college with a physical presence to offer Coursera massive open online courses (MOOCs) that will count for credit towards a bachelor’s degree. Online education is undergoing a transformation, according to Stanford professor and co-founder of Coursera, Daphne Koller. “A year ago, online education was something people would look at
as a not completely respectable form of education. Now it’s something which every institution is figuring out how to use and how quickly.” What are the benefits of MOOCs over traditional classes and how will they change education?

College Offers MOOCs for Credit

Topic 3: What’s your inspiration?

Jon Landau, producer of Titanic and Avatar, spoke at DevLearn.

Jon Landau, producer of Titanic and Avatar, spoke at DevLearn on Wednesday.

If you haven’t heard of Jon Landau, you’ve probably at least seen his blockbuster films. The producer of Titanic and Avatar spoke at DevLearn on Wednesday and gave a motivational presentation about making innovative, creative content with technology. Which of these notes caught your attention? What’s your inspiration for doing what you do?

Notes from DevLearn General Session with Jon Landau

If you’re new to Twitter chats, don’t forget about awesome tools such as that automatically save the hashtag and help you focus on the conversation!

Thursday Tech Talk (#T3) – Trends, Observations, Snarkiness

From Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, courtesy of C-2 Pictures (Get it? #T3)?)

Happy belated New Year from BLP! Now that the last chorus of  Auld Lang Syne has died down and the egg nog is put away, we are diving back in to our continued search for the best, RIGHT learning solution. The entire staff is sporting brand new iPads (happy holidays, right?) and as always we are elbow deep in discovering fun new apps, games, and gizmos.

If you are like us, you love talking about this stuff and sharing your take. That’s why we want to invite you to join in on our first ever Twitter chat for techies, nerds, and those obsessed with the latest, greatest gadgets and emerging technologies. It’s called Thursday Tech Talk, #T3 for short. No, we won’t be Tweeting with our Arnold Schwarzenegger voices.

Here’s how you can join in the fun:

1. Share your favorite tech article by posting to Twitter with the hashtag #T3 throughout the week. Be sure to include why we should read it!

2. Follow @BLPIndy on Twitter so you are ready to join in the conversation.

3. Join us (almost) every Thursday at 3 pm. We’ll gather the most interesting articles and Tweet out three of our favorites. We will then debate, discuss, yell, and postulate about them for 10 minutes each. You can follow the action by searching the hashtag #T3.

Sound fun? We thought so too! We’re looking forward to discussing the latest tech news with you.

–Stay tuned for more from Bottom-Line Performance in 2012.

Designing Synchronous e-Learning Courses

We’re continuing our discussion of synchronous e-learning (aka. distance learning) this month. Today, I want to talk about how to actually design synchronous e-learning courses. There are many elements of course design that need to be taken into consideration for synchronous e-learning. However, here are just a few questions to consider:

1. Technology

  • Is there someone who can act as a “host” on the session and manage technical issues and questions?
  • Is the technology that we’re using stable and robust enough to allow for interaction?
  • Is the technology intuitive enough that it is a help and not a distraction to facilitators or participants?

2. Facilitators

  • Are the facilitators comfortable using the technology?
  • Can the facilitators offer feedback to participants on activities in real time?
  • Are facilitators willing to take the additional time needed to practice and prepare for a synchronous e-learning course?
  • Do facilitators have clear instructions on how to facilitate the activity? Below is an example of a duel facilitator guide we created for a client recently. In this situation, the course will be taught both face to face and online. Facilitators make the choice on how to facilitate based on their situation.

3. Participants

4. Content

  • Have I avoided the temptation to make synchronous e-Learning more about lecture than exploration? While it can seem “easier” to take this route, in reality synchronous e-learning requires MORE interaction and opportunities to ensure that participants are engaged. Check out this great table to assess the level of interactivity across the various elements of course design.
  • Is the course chunked into management bites? As much as possible, shorter modules are preferable in synchronous e-learning to avoid the dreaded multitasking of participants!
  • Is the course designer/writer familiar with the technology? Has she/he ensured that what is written is actually feasible?

What do you think of my list? What’s missing that you always consider when developing synchronous e-learning?

Education in Second Life

I came across this Second Life blog post today. There is an education conference happening in Second Life this week! I’m really inerested in hearing what others have done with Second Life as I think it’s got lots of potential for training as it offers a great platform for simulations and practice sessions.

If you’re not familiar with Second Life, it’s a virtual world where you can create just about anything using 3D modeling. I’ve seen everything from a replicated Egyptian temple to an office conference room. Several “real world” colleges are already using Second Life, as well as news organizations like CNN.

I’ve not had a chance to attend the conference, but I discovered that they’ve actually saved several of the presentations. I know it’s a little late, but check out the blog and the wiki with the taped sessions.Even if you’ve never spent any time in Second Life, this is a good way to learn how others are using the world to benefit their learners.