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Quality Review Tools for Digital Learning Resources

Recent initiatives such as the U.S. Department of Education’s #GoOpen Campaign[1] and North Carolina’s Digital Learning Initiative[2] have highlighted the potential equity, flexibility, and cost-saving benefits of leveraging open educational resources to support teaching and learning. As schools and districts continue to expand access to broadband and devices, the availability of free or inexpensive digital learning resources has expanded exponentially. However, with an increase in quantity comes uncertainty about the quality of instructional materials. In response, the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction and the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation have developed and identified several resources[3] to support educational organizations in their adoption, development, and use of digital learning resources.

The Quality Review Checklist and Rubric presented here are designed to supplement the report Selecting Digital Education Content: A Guide for North Carolina Schools and Districts. Based on a review of the existing literature and feedback and support from district leaders across the state, the checklist and rubric identify four domains and twelve key indicators for assessing the quality of digital learning resources. The following questions summarize the criteria for high-quality resources and should be answered in the affirmative before approving their use in the classroom:

  • Is the instruction focused, engaging, and informative?
  • Is the content presented accurate, adequate, and appropriate?
  • Are technology features purposeful, reliable, and accessible?
  • Is the design of the resource motivating, clear, and user-friendly?

Both the checklist and rubric are designed to evaluate supplemental digital learning resources such as online educational games, simulations, apps, instructional tasks or lesson plans that require a digital device (e.g. computer, tablet, or smartphone). The checklist and rubric may also serve as an initial screening tool for more comprehensive materials such as multi-lesson curricular units, e-textbooks, or online courses. However, it is recommended that subject specific criteria be used when reviewing more comprehensive instructional materials. See appendix for suggested rubrics.

Tool 1: The NC Quality Review Checklist is intended as a quick reference tool to help identify any red flags that should give pause when considering the use of digital learning resources. To use the checklist, simply respond “Yes” or “No” to the provided questions. If the answer to any of the questions is “No,” consider using an alternate resource or ways in which the resource can be modified to address the identified shortcomings.

Tool 2: The NC Quality Review Rubric is designed for situations where a more in-depth review of digital learning resources is required, such as the selection of resources to include in a school, district, or state-wide online repository or as recommended resources as part of a pacing guide or a curriculum map. To complete the rubric, review each indicator and assign a value of 0-4 based on closest match to the criteria described. Record your responses and recommendation on the provided scoring sheet. Resources that score a “0” or “1” on any indicator should be carefully considered before recommending their use by educators and students.




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Related Resources

Resource Guide – Selecting Digital Education Content: A Guide for North Carolina Schools and Districts

This document provides educators with background information and recommendations to inform their selection of digital content.


North Carolina Digital-Age Learning Initiative North Carolina Digital-Age Learning Initiative


North Carolina Digital-Age Learning Initiative

The NC Digital-Age Learning Initiative builds upon the existing foundation of digital learning initiatives to develop a coherent long-term strategy that sets directions and priorities, supports innovation, and provides resources to enable the State’s educators and students to benefit fully from digital-age teaching and learning.


March 3, 2021

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Friday Institute for Educational Innovation