Focus on what works best


The following case study identifies a possible link between teachers...

Throughout this course you have explored a variety of technology tools and approaches to integrate into your online or blended teaching. Aside from creating a plan for continuing this process of exploration, you now need to focus on what is going to work best for you and your students.

As you know by now, adopting a new technology tool or approach requires more than just a quick glance and installation. Your primary focus will always be on student learning, and success will be apparent when technology tool adoption and implementation is seamless and measurably supports the course or programme learning outcomes.

In the following activity, click on each step to view the key reminders that you should consider in support of creating your own strategy for success.

Now take a moment to review some key reminders to consider in support of creating your own strategy for success.

Step 1 of 5: Be realistic

Make sure that you understand the purpose of using a specific technology tool or approach. Focus on looking for measurable results and real impact on student learning. Try to avoid the latest novelty, and remember that every new tool goes through an adoption cycle. Make decisions based on actual data, such as feedback from students and institutional research. Know what you are getting into before you leap!

Step 2 of 5: Practise, practise, practise

Set aside time to try out everything you want to use in advance of actual implementation. Even if you are familiar with every feature setting associated with a technology tool, carry out a practice run with your students or colleagues; test out a new approach before you use it to assess student understanding, and assign an actual grade.

Step 3 of 5: Focus on context

Everything is relative. Your colleagues may have had huge success with social media in their online classes, but there may be little or no application within your own discipline or course. Check for associated research on integration of the technology tool within your discipline to better contextualise your approach.

Step 4 of 5: Ask for help

Do not be afraid to reach out for help from your students, colleagues, and the relevant technology and/or teaching and learning support units at your institution. Also, check online for training and documentation resources to help guide you and your students through a successful implementation.

Step 5 of 5: Communicate

Share what you are doing! Let students and colleagues know what you are trying to do, and how you are expecting to measure success. Consider publishing a paper or presenting at a conference to share your successes and failures, and to build a network to foster collaboration and continued exploration.

The technology tools to support learning

Student learning is the focus of your work. As you already know, for every technology tool and approach you consider there should be a clear connection to what you want your students to accomplish and how you will measure their success.

Teaching online can be a juggling act at times – as you try to find the best ways to provide content, develop interaction, and perform assessment. The technology tools are there to support you along the way as you design and deliver engaging online learning experiences for your students. Taking time to assess what you are currently using, and what you would like to explore is a key step on your pathway to success.

In the following activity, reflect on a particular technology tool you have reviewed in this course by considering the questions. In each case, use the 'Hint' to guide your response, then click 'Feedback' to view our thoughts. Use 'Next' to move through the questions. When you have finished, click 'View feedback' for some summarising thoughts.
Reflecting on a particular technology tool you have reviewed in this course, take a moment to consider the following questions. For each question, use the 'Hint' to guide your thoughts, consider your response and then continue on for our thoughts.
Portfolio icon

Question 1 of 5:
What is the main purpose of using the specific technology tool?

Hint: Which category does it fall under?

Our thoughts:

The purpose of using this tool falls into one of the following categories: knowledge distribution, content contribution, communication, interaction, community facilitation, or examination and assessment.

Question 2 of 5:
Is this a substitution or transformative approach to using the technology tool?

Hint: Where does it fit in with the SAMR model?

Our thoughts:

The SAMR (substitution, augmentation, modification, redefinition) model helps us gauge how far this technology tool will be integrated into learning.

Question 3 of 5:
How will this technology tool benefit student learning?

Hint: What do you want your students to do?

Our thoughts:

Take time to review your learning outcomes to see if use of this technology tool is in alignment with course and programme learning objectives.

Question 4 of 5:
What challenges do you expect you will face?

Hint: What obstacles to success do you anticipate, and who will be most affected by these obstacles?

Our thoughts:

Challenges can arise in a host of areas, and identifying potential issues up front will save you time and effort. Identify who might be affected by any implementation, and what the constraints and contingencies might be to avoid these challenges.

Question 5 of 5:
Where can you find additional support and resources?

Hint: What professional networks or institutional resources are available?

Our thoughts:

Search online and within your professional networks for research and resources related to effective practices for integrating specific technology tools into your online teaching. Always check with your institution for training, documentation, and policies related to technology use.

Final feedback

Feel free to repeat this exercise for all of the technology tools that you are considering. You may find that there are some technology tools and approaches that you are more comfortable reflecting on, and for which the benefits to student learning can more clearly be seen. You may wish to record your thoughts in your Teaching Online portfolio.

There is no one right pathway to success, but developing your own systematic approach to the review, evaluation, and implementation of technology tools and approaches in your online or blended teaching will help you reach your goals. Always consider the resources you have at hand, including your students and colleagues!