Each year, new learning technologies are touted as the next big thing in learning and development. We hear about a new smartphone, new app, or new technology every single day. Some have staying power, while others turn out to be passing fads. Even when a learning technology has a strong use case, poor needs analysis and half-baked implementation can lead to missed expectations and disappointed stakeholders.

With so many new technologies on the market, how do you sort through the irrelevant and the junk?

We’ve come up with a simple worksheet to help you out. Bottom-Line Performance developed the Learning Technology Evaluation Checklist to help our company make smarter technology adoption decisions. Lots of new tech sounds exciting… but all that glitters isn’t gold. We needed a way to objectively evaluate technologies and separate the good from the bad.

Our checklist uses a tried and true methodology for evaluating new learning technologies. Use it in your own organization to evaluate new tools and techniques, create realistic use cases, and develop an appropriate proof of concept.

learning technology

The Evaluation Process

1. Identify

The process starts with scanning for technologies that are relevant. Curate your own network of blogs, social media, colleagues, conferences, etc. to see what trends and technologies are being discussed. Seek out industry “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.

2. 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 new learning technology 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 emerging technologies to your needs, efforts, or emerging issues.

3. Evaluate

Once you have established your focus, you can do a deeper dive on relevant technologies. Start researching pricing options and sign up for free trials if possible. This is where the Learning Technology Evaluation Checklist comes into play. Here is where you consider the functionality, costs, risks, gains, etc. Think about what the technology lets you and your learners do. Is it easy and intuitive to use? Does it engage people? How much time will it take to use and maintain it?

Note: When you’re evaluating, make sure to involve your colleagues. Much like when you’re playtesting a game, a fresh new perspective can help you catch things you may have missed.

4. Make a Recommendation

Based on your evaluation, you can decide to conduct a small pilot, recommend for full-scale adoption, 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, for example. If you’re ready to recommend the technology for a pilot or full-scale adoption, the tool prompts you to think through a short elevator pitch you can present to peers and stakeholders.

Download the Learning Technology Evaluation Checklist

Want to know more?

Attend our session, Promise vs. Hype: How to Evaluate Emerging Learning Technologies, at the 2018 ATD International Conference in San Diego on May 9th. Steven Boller, Director of Marketing and Product Management, and Nick Shelton, Learning Interaction Design Manager, will use Articulate Rise 360 as a sample tool and the use of games for learning as a sample trend to walk through the technology evaluation process and demonstrate how an organization can evaluate new tools and techniques, create realistic use cases, and develop an appropriate proof of concept. Then, they’ll discuss the learning technology landscape in 2018 and share their analysis and predictions on the latest tools and techniques.