Evaluating Digital Tools

Our DEL 6104 class’s objective this module was to come up with a question based off ISTE coaching standard 3 performance indicators b, d, and f. The standard states, “Technology coaches create and support effective digital age learning environments to maximize the learning of all students” (ISTE, 2014). The indicators d, and f focus on evaluating digital tools to enhance teaching and support student learning. 

My inquiry for this module focused on finding ways to evaluate digital tools to enhance teaching and learning. What I’ve learned from my research is that there are many common technology integration frameworks that are used to help teachers better understand the process and objectives of technology integration. However, it may not be as simple as it sounds. There is no one straight forward answer in how to evaluate your teaching and/or tech integration.

In the remainder of this post, I provide an overview of two frameworks that I feel are a good starting point.  In understanding these two frameworks (and others that exist) it’s important to create your own understanding of the research behind them and explore their strengths and weaknesses or limitations. It’s my goal that the overviews provide a basis for teachers to continue investigating, build on their understanding and begin thinking or using the frameworks to integrate technology in meaningful ways in their classrooms.


The TPACK framework was introduced by Punya Mishra and Matthew J. Koehler of Michigan State University in 2006. It focuses on three primary forms of knowledge: Content Knowledge (CK), Pedagogical Knowledge (PK), and Technological Knowledge (TK). Mishra and Koehler acknowledged that there has been a tendency to look at the technology and not how it is used. The TPACK framework works to combine the three forms of knowledge teachers need for successful technology integration. 

Source: Reproduced by permission of the publisher, © 2012 by tpack.org

TPACK layers the content, pedagogy, and technology and helps relay the importance of all three for successful integration. It shows us that there’s a relationship between them and that the purposeful blending of them is key. Also, TPACK assumes that when you look at content and pedagogy that you will then think about the technology that supports it. 

Mishra and Koehler’s research showed that “given opportunities to thoughtfully engage in the design of educational technology, teachers showed tremendous growth in their sensitivity to the complex interactions among content, pedagogy, and technology, thus developing their TPCK.” (p. 1046). You can use the TPACK framework to look at all three parts and analyze, reflect or plan meaningful learning with technology integration, and also can apply the framework when planning PD around technology. I find that the framework is a great place to start building an understanding of the importance of all three components. The Triple E which is explained below can be used with the TPACK to further develop strategies to successfully blend content, pedagogy, and technology.

TPACK Resources

TPACK Lesson Planning Template 

Examples/ Possibilities for Technology Use (based on the types of learning activities that each digital tool or resource best supports)

Example of 7th Grade ELA Lesson using TPACK

Triple E Framework

Triple E Framework was developed in 2011 by Professor Liz Kolb at the University of Michigan, School of Education. It focuses on analyzing how technology can help scholars achieve the learning goals and is based on what research has shown to be best practices when integrating technology. The framework is broken down into the three E’s: Engage, Enhance, and Extend and explained in the image below.

Source: Triple E Framework by http://tripleeframework.weebly.com

What I like about incorporating the Triple E framework into your planning or reflection is that it can be a tool used in conjunction with TPACK. The framework is very user-friendly and simplifies the way to assess your technology integration by asking reflective questions that can help guide you to its effectiveness (or its strengths and weaknesses). The Triple E website and planning templates also offer instructional strategies to enhance or strengthen areas of weakness.

Triple E Framework Resources

Acknowledging Complex Learning Environments “ecosystems” and Limitations within Frameworks

While TPACK and Tripple E Frameworks work as tools to simplify how to “effectively” integrate or assess your integration of technology in the classroom they also have their limitations. The models work well as straightforward, starting points. However, do not provide a holistic picture of our classroom environments. For example, in 2016 research done by the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education (SCOPE) looking at how can technologies and digital learning experiences be used to support underserved, under-resourced, and underprepared students, found that learning outcomes are “often narrowly conceived in terms of academic achievement, but our analyses have indicated that this idea is somewhat shallow. Instead of solely academic outcomes, research indicates that learners‘ experience results fall across four domains: affective, behavioral, skill-based, and cognitive.” (p. 7). They also found that “the context for learning is equally relevant (to technology and learning outcomes) and thus constitutes the other major sphere of influence in the Digital Learning Ecosystem.” (p. 8). The context is subdivided into three categories: the learning community, the goals, and objectives for learning, and the actual activities that learners engage in as they are using the digital tools. This framework breaks down digital learning environments more complexly, broadens the factors contributing to scholars success towards the learning goals and provides yet another lens to reflect on effective technology integration.

Digital Learning Ecosystem Explained 

Source: © 2015, Molly B. Zielezinski, Stanford University Graduate School of Education

Acknowledging that your classroom or “ecosystem” is complex and that using one model or framework to assess your teaching or learning does not provide you with a holistic picture allows you to challenge the way you talk about, understand or imagine your classroom, as Zielezinski and Darling-Hammond from SCOPE state:

“There is utility in knowing what are widely considered to be promising practices, but these are only the starting point. The end point is when you find what works for your students in your school(s) with your technology today—especially if what is working today is preparing your students for the world they will encounter tomorrow and the day after, let alone the world they will inherit in the years to come.” (p. 27). 


ISTE Standards for Coaches. (n.d.). Retrieved July 29, 2019, from https://www.iste.org/standards/for-coaches 

Kolb, L., Professor. (n.d.). About the Triple E Framework. Retrieved July 29, 2019, from https://www.tripleeframework.com/about.html 

Kolb, L., Professor. (n.d.). Triple E Lesson Planning. Retrieved July 29, 2019, from https://www.tripleeframework.com/triple-e-planning-tools.html 

Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. J. (2006). Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge: A Framework for Teacher Knowledge. Teachers College Record, 108(6), 1017–1054. Retrieved from http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi= 

Zielezinski, M. B., Darling-Hammond, L., & Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education (SCOPE). (2016). Promising Practices: A Literature Review of Technology Use by Underserved Students. Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education. Retrieved from https://edpolicy.stanford.edu/sites/default/files/publications/scope-report-promising-practices-v1.pdf

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