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Welcome to CTREX 5.0 [BETA]
Introducing the CTR Flex Rubric
CTR's new tool for evaluating interactive media using an adaptable set of criteria
The Flex Rubric is CTR's new tool for evaluating interactive media using an adaptable set of criteria. Because a single set of criteria may not apply to all types of products, CTR has created an array of rubrics comprised of custom-picked Quality Attributes designed to fit various genres. These Quality Attributes can be weighted by the reviewer depending on the perceived importance of each criterion in any particular case. Publishers and CTR Subscribers can evaluate products with the Flex Rubric on CTREX to share their own opinions and become a part of the exchange. A custom rubric tool is also available to rate products using up to ten Quality Attributes.

CTR's rubric contains five general quality attributes. It is used by experienced reviewers to quickly capture the essence a product. Instead of thinking of the five quality attributes as independent variables, it is more accurate to view them as overlapping ideas that are related. A product that is fun to use is also more likely to be educational, for example, and this increases the value. Obviously, an easy to use product is more likely to be better designed than one that is complicated. You can see how these five attributes are related, at info at http://childrenstech.com/about/ratings
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Can you get started in 5 to 15 seconds with minimal reading or starting steps? What is the MUC (Minimum User Competence) hurdle? MUC is defined as the prerequisite abilities are required to get into the experience, or the first "hurdle." Are these skills or abilities lower than the skills the experience is designed to foster or enhance? Does the product foster accidental success? Accidental success means you can lean on the keyboard, mouse or touch screen and something "right" happens. Consider all the hoops you need to use the product. Are they minimal and appropriate?
Are the initial launch screens short, and can the by easily bypassed or skipped? If you struggle when in the experience and need help, is that help (or scaffolding) included and/or appropriate? Is the interface crisp and responsive, fostering feelings of success?

HIGH - It does just what I'd expect. You tap the app icon and see a giant "start" button for example. Toca Boca apps are famously easy to use. Just touch the large pulsing start buttons. Key navigation icons are easy to find anywhere in the experience.

LOW - Might have cluttered choice screens and too many instructions that can't be skipped. Key navigation icons might obscured or not visable, making a child feel trapped. An app designed to help a child learn to read that uses a menu where reading is required is a class MUC problem.


http://childrenstech.com/about/ratings#easeofuse
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This is a subjective quality attribute, and should be used when comparing similarly designed products. Ask "what does the child walk away from the experience with that he or she didn't have when first coming to the experience?" Is this skill, competence or knowledge valued? If the interface was a human teacher, is there evidence of thoughtful pedagogy? Does the challenge increase or decrease, or is there some sort of scaffolding (support when struggling)? If you make a mistake, are you given help?

You also need to determine if there is formal and informal education value in the experience, or perhaps both. Some products tie nicely into common core items or your school curriculum. Others less so.

http://childrenstech.com/about/ratings#educational

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This item is subjective and should be used only when comparing products that are similar in price, platform and intention. "Entertaining" is a broad category, comprised of many other specific categories... as a result it's use can lower the statistical significance of the overall rating.

Things to consider that might contribute to higher entertainment scores are:
• Do children return to experience time after time?
• Are random generation techniques are employed in the design, to increase elements of surprise.
• Are the speech and sounds meaningful and of interest to children?
• Is the challenge is fluid, or a child can select own level?
• Is the experience is responsive to a child’s actions?
• Is the theme likely to be meaningful to children.

http://childrenstech.com/about/ratings#entertaining
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This item is subjective and should be used only when comparing products that are similar in price, platform and intention. Design features associated with quality can vary widely. It might be the ability to adjust sound or individualize the presentation for a specific child can increase the the overall value and meaningfulness of the experience for a child. Well designed products might be "smart" or can adapt to a child's ability or behavior. Other features might include
• Speech capacity, or text to speech.
• Scaffolding and help features, when appropriate.
• Sharing features -- including the ability to save work, save photos or print reports of progress.
• Record keeping of a child's past performance.
• Branching, meaning a fluid challenge that gets hard or easier depending on how the child does?
• The ability for a child to put their ideas into the experience.
• The ability to adjust or toggle sounds.
• Feedback that is customized in some way to the individual child.
• Teacher/parent options that are easy to find and use.

http://childrenstech.com/about/ratings#designfeatures
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How much does it cost vs. what does it do? This item is subjective and should be used to compare similar products with the same intention. You can also define "value" in terms of time or money. Complexity of downloading and installing can increase setup time increasing the overall cost, even if the initial download is $free. http://childrenstech.com/about/ratings#goodvalue
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