The PSLC Enabling Technologies include permanent, on-going tasks (such as the DataShop) and an evolving collection of tool-development projects of finite duration. There are two kinds of Enabling Technology projects. One kind develops new kinds of data analysis tools, and the other develops authoring tools for advanced educational technology.
Some projects may produce tools that combine data analysis and authoring. These tools are intended to make it easier for experimenters to develop experimental materials and to analyze the resulting data. Once a tool has been developed and refined with real users, it is taken over by the DataShop which provides user support and software maintenance.
The following criteria are used in evaluating a proposed Enabling Technology project; the more criteria that are met, the better:
- Learning researchers outside the development group *use* the technology or prototypes early in the enabling technology's development process typically within six months. In other words, design and development of the enabling technology needs to be *use* driven not just user driven.
- The project leaders have developed and implement a process to advertise, solicit, and support new researcher users.
- The enabling technology gets used in multiple research projects and in as many LearnLab courses and affiliated courses as possible.
- The software progresses through co-development, that is, researcher users, outside the development team, play an active role in helping to determine the features of the technology.
- The project and the software it creates yield a worthwhile end goal.