Published on 2012/05/15
Prospective classroom technologies must be both easy to access and easy to use to be considered for integration into higher education institutions. Photo by Michael Coghlan.

Technology that is selected for classroom use should help students achieve intended outcomes, and an appropriate technology should not require the student to spent significant time learning it. The first part of this article introduced the three perils of technology selection and discussed the importance of understanding the purpose of the technology in determining the usefulness of a given technology.

The three perils of technology selection are:

  1. Choosing the technology before developing the course outcomes.
  2. Using a technology because it is available or you are obliged to use it.
  3. Assuming the high-tech technology option will be more effective.

This article will look at the other two factors: Access and Usability.

Access:

Technology selected for the classroom should be easy to use, affordable, relevant, and be accessible to all learners including those with disabilities, financially poor, or those who live in rural areas with no—or low—bandwidth. If it is not uniformly accessible to students, you may want to take a step back and ask if another technology exists that might be a better choice.  At the very least, do not require the technology be used for out of class learning activities. If it must be used outside class, consider how you can accommodate any student who may have difficulty accessing the chosen learning technology.

Usability

The final criterion I use for technology selection is whether instructors and students with no prior experience can immediately use the technology (or quickly learn to use it). If not, it may be time to go back to the initial technology list and select an alternative. If the benefits outweigh the cost then make learning the particular technology one of the course outcomes and plan for how you will support that learning.

Classroom teachers are very busy but by setting aside time for a systematic review of the available technologies, you will be very pleased with how seamlessly appropriate technology can be integrated into your class to facilitate interactivity or understanding.

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Readers Comments

WA Anderson 2012/05/21 at 12:01 pm

My least favourite part about switching online learning systems… trying to learn how to use the damn thing. I’m with you 100% on this article!

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