End of Course Technology Tool Review

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Published: Monday, May 3, 2021
Summary:

Reviewing key parts about the educational technology tools in your course can help you determine if it is the right tool for the job and help improve the usage of the tool within your course.

The end of the academic semester allows the opportunity for instructors to review your completed courses as they are fresh in your memories. One area of your course that you can review and assess is the educational tools that you utilized in your course and the activities that use those technology tools. This is especially true given the last several semesters most courses had to move to a remote or hybrid implementation through 2020 and 2021. The circumstances of the last year allowed for instructors and students to experience new technology tools within their courses even if they were most likely hastily added additions to courses. A review of these technologies allows for you to reflect on the efficacy of these technology tools and how you want to implement them going forward. Below are some areas that you can examine while reviewing your educational technology tools to make sure they are fitting your needs and areas where you can improve activities that utilize these tools. Use the questions provided as a launching point to assess if a tool is working for you and your learners. The questions can also be used to aid in possibly making the most out of the tools you use in your course through thoughtful incorporation.  

Presence

The presence piece of a tool aids in the building of community and for each participant to fulfill their role as either facilitator or learner within a course. Something that should be considered about a technology tool is how effective that tool is in facilitating collaboration either asynchronously or synchronously. The encouragement of collaboration through these tools can aid in the creation of a sense of community within your course. An effective technology tool also needs to allow for an effective teaching presence through facilitation. The instructor should have the ability to model, provide feedback, and question their students within the technology tool to allow the instructor to engage in facilitation. The tool should also provide the ability for the learners to engage in learning tasks that can achieve higher-order learning skills as well as basic learning skills.

Questions to ask:

  • Does the tool work best for asynchronous or synchronous use? 
  • What type of activities or assignments can be used to take advantage of the asynchronous or synchronous nature of the technology tool?
  • What strengths and weaknesses does the tool have in allowing for collaboration?
  • How can activities and assignments be adjusted to take advantage of using collaboration with the tool?
  • How does the tool allow for me to engage with the learners to facilitate their learning journey?
  • How can the instructor question learners in order to challenge their learning within this tool?
  • How can I use the feedback function within the tool to further the learning of the learners?
  • How can the tool and/or the activities using this tool engage the learners to use higher-level thinking skills such as problem-solving and critical thinking?

Functionality

The functionality of an educational technology tool focuses on how well a tool serves its purpose in helping facilitate teaching and learning. One of the key factors of functionality is the ease of use for both instructors and learners. The usage of a technology tool shouldn’t be a hurdle that prohibits or frustrates the teaching and learning within a course or activity. Another important thing to consider about a tool is if it fits the size of your course. Some technology tools work well for small course sizes, whereas some work well for large course sizes. Even if a tool is recommended for all course sizes, it should be examined to see the advantages and disadvantages for usage in all sorts of course sizes. Technical support of a technology tool is also very important for when instructors and learners do run into issues. The ability for the instructor and the learner to find solutions to their issues with a tool can reduce their frustrations and hurdles with technology that may hinder their teaching or learning.

Questions to ask:

  • What size course does this tool work best for?
  • Are there any modifications that need to be implemented to use the tool based on the size of the course?
  • How easy or difficult is it for the learners and me to use the tool?
  • What are some common issues that the learners and I experienced?
  • How can resources be provided or built into the course or activity to provide these resolve these common issues?
  • Am I scaffolding the usage of the tool from easy tasks at the beginning of the course to more advanced tasks by the end of the course to allow learners to learn the tool?
  • How can I model the usage of the tool in the course, activities, and assignments?

Hopefully, the above characteristics of technology tools and questions related to each can encourage a review of the tools you used in your courses this past year and how you can use the tools more efficiently and effectively in your courses. Reflection after running a course can allow the opportunity to adjust what tools were used and start improving the course in how the technology tools were utilized in the course. If you need assistance in coming up with ideas on how to use our supported tools (Badgr, PlayPosit, VoiceThread, and Examity) in new or more effective ways, please check out our upcoming training or webinars, look at our Knowledge Base Articles, or feel free to schedule an appointment with InTech.

Guest Author(s):
Brad Butler
Former Instructional Technologist, Digital Learning