Topic 3 Pedagogical criteria used for the selection of tools, applications and other digital resources for a given learning context

We have now on how to search and how to evaluate the search from. The search and the selection also have to match the settings – the learning context. More specific, different search strategies should be employed in relation to the specific target group, learning context and objectives in the wide range of innovative technologies and tools.

When setting up pedagogical criteria for selection of digital resources it can be a good idea to be inspired by a model. A.W. Bates is a good example:

The framework used is the SECTIONS model, which stands for:

S tudents

E ase of use

C osts

T eaching functions

I nteraction

O rganisational issues

N etworking

S ecurity and privacy

In this topic (3) some will be examined and others in other topics


At least three issues related to students need to be considered when choosing media and technology:

  • student demographics;
  • access; and
  • differences in how students learn.

At the link bellow you will find a lot of questions. Try by the top of your head to answer as many as possible about your students:

Questions about your students

Ease of use

When evaluating a digital resource on how easy it is to use, you can look at:

  • Computer and information literacy
  • Orientation
  • Interface design
  • Reliability

Computer and information literacy

There is a basic set of literacy skills that will be required, such as the ability to read and write, to use a keyboard, to use word processing software, to navigate the internet and to use mobile devices. These generic skills though could be considered pre-requisites. If not, the institution could consider courses for students in these topics.


A useful standard or criterion for the selection of course media or software is that ‘novice’ students (students who have never used the software before) should be studying within 20 minutes of logging on.

This is more of an orientation period though than learning new skills of computing.

Interface design

The critical factor in making technology transparent is the design of the interface between the user and the machine. Thus an educational program or any web site should be well structured, intuitive for the user to use, and easy to navigate.

This is one reason why it is often wise to use software or tools that have been well established in education, because these have been tested and been found to work well.


The reliability and robustness of the technology is also critical. Most of us will have had the frustration of losing work when our word programming software crashes or working ‘in the cloud’ and being logged off in the middle of a piece of writing.

Teaching functions

When selecting digital resources in a pedagogically context

Bates refer to a huge research done by Mayer where he identified 12 principles of multimedia design, based on how learners cognitively process multimedia. When reading these a lot of reflection over learning can emerge …

  1. Coherence

People learn better when extraneous words, pictures and sounds are excluded rather than included.

  1. Signaling

People learn better when cues that highlight the organization of the essential material are added.

  1. [Avoid] Redundancy

People learn better from graphics + narration, than from graphics, narration and on-screen text.

  1. Spatial contiguity

People learn better when corresponding words and pictures are presented near rather than far from each other on the page or screen

  1. Temporal contiguity

People learn better when corresponding words and pictures are presented simultaneously rather than successively.

  1. Segmenting

People learn better when a multimedia lesson is presented in user-paced segments rather than as a continuous lesson.

  1. Pre-training

People learn better from a multimedia lesson when they know the names and the characteristics of the main concepts

  1. Modality

People learn better from graphics and narration than from animation and on-screen text.

  1. Multimedia

People learn better from words and pictures than from words alone.

  1. Personalization

People learn better from multimedia lessons when words are in conversational style rather than formal style

  1. Voice

People learn better when the narration in multimedia lessons is spoken in a friendly human voice rather than a machine voice.

  1. [No] image

People do not necessarily learn better from a multimedia lesson when the speaker’s image is added to the screen.

Making a preliminary decision on media selection

Choose a course that you are teaching or may be teaching. Identify what media or technologies you might be interested in using. Keep a note of your decision and your reasons for your choice of media/technologies.

Take Mayer’s 12 principles into consideration – how does they match your own use of resources

Will use of a new technology be the only innovation, or can I also change my way of teaching with this technology to get better results?


The ‘affordance’ of interaction is critically important, as there is now an overwhelming amount of research evidence to suggest that students learn best when they are ‘active’ in their learning.

But what does this mean?

And what role can or do new technologies play in supporting active learning?

Different technologies can enhance or inhibit each of the three types of interactivity outlined above:

Inherent interactivity

Some media are inherently ‘active’ in that they ‘push’ learners to respond.

Designed interactivity

Although some media or technologies are not inherently interactive, they can be explicitly designed to encourage interaction with learners.

User-generated interaction

Some media may not have explicit interaction built in, but end users may still voluntarily interact with the medium

“In topic 1.3 we examined the pedagogical criteria used for selection of tools etc.. for a given learning context”. Here the SECTION model offers us a wide band of criteria: Students, Ease of use, Costs, Teaching functions, Interaction, Organizational issues, Networking and Security and privacy.

In the topic we also went through Mayer’s 12 principles of multimedia design, based on how learners cognitively process multimedia.