Selecting Educational Technologies: A Checklist

A photo of Apple products: iPhone, iPad, and iMac.

With so many possibilities for digital learning, selecting media and technologies for teaching is a complex process with a wide range of factors to consider. Reflecting on the purpose and the learning outcome first is key to identifying and considering technological applications for your flipped class.

The SECTIONS model, developed by Tony Bates (2015), provides a framework for determining the appropriateness of teaching technologies. This might include identifying and determining pedagogical characteristics of text, audio, video, computing, and social media. SECTIONS stands for:

  • Students
  • Ease of use
  • Costs
  • Teaching functions (including the affordances of different media)
  • Interaction
  • Organizational issues
  • Networking
  • Security and privacy

We have an abbreviated version of this developed by Laura Pasquini, a UNT educator in Learning Technologies.

Students

  • Review accessibility mandates or policy of your institution, department, or program.
  • Determine demographics of the students and appropriateness of technology.
  • Consider student access to technologies, both off campus and on campus.
  • Determine the digital skills and digital readiness of your students with learning expectations from your learning outcomes and overall course design.
  • Justify students’ purchases of a new technology component (if needed) for learning.
  • Assess prior learning approaches and how technology can support student-learning difference.

Ease of Use

  • Select the technology based on ease of use by instructor and students.
  • Identify technology that is reliable for teaching and learning.
  • Verify that the technology set up, maintenance, and upgrade is simple.
  • Confirm the technology provider/company is stable to support hardware or software use.
  • Outline strategies to secure any digital teaching materials you create should the organization providing the software or service cease to exist.
  • Locate technical and professional support, both in terms of the technology and with respect to the design of materials.
  • Determine technologies to best support edits and updates of learning materials.
  • Outline how the new technology will change your way of teaching and get better results with your learners.
  • Assess risks and potential challenges for using this technology for teaching and learning.

Cost and Your Time

  • Consider media selection by the length of time and ease of use during course development. Consider the “Modest Approach” to educational technology adoption.
  • Factor the time it takes to prepare class content such as lectures and determine if development of digital learning materials will save time and encourage interaction with students (online and/or face-to-face).
  • Investigate if there is extra funding for innovative teaching or technology applications; if so, determine how to best use that funding for learning technologies. CLEAR frequently provides funded opportunities for utilizing teaching technologies in UNT courses. Please visit the CLEAR website for more information.
  • Assess the local support from your institution’s instructional designers and media professionals for media design and development. CLEAR provides both instructional design and consulting services, as well as media production services. These services are free to any faculty teaching a UNT course.
  • Identify open educational resources for the course, e.g. an open textbook, online videos, library page of articles, or other potential OERs.

Teaching & Educational Factors

  • Determine the desired learning outcomes for the course.
  • Design instructional strategies to facilitate the learning outcomes.
  • Outline specific pedagogical characteristics and needs appropriate for the course and learners in terms of content presentation and skill development with regards to:
    • textbook, readings, or online text materials;
    • audio, such as podcasts, streaming audio from news, etc.;
    • video, such as slide presentations, lectures, tutorials, and screencasts; and
    • social media, such as blogs, wikis, microblogs, photo-sharing, curation, etc.
  • Plan the learning aspects that must be face-to-face (in-person or synchronously online).

Interaction

  • Identify the skills for development and interactions to determine the best type of media or technology to facilitate this learning.
  • Determine the kinds of interaction that produce a good balance between student comprehension and student skills development.
  • Estimate the amount of time the instructor will be interacting personally or online with students and the type of medium for this interaction.

Organizational Issues

  • Identify institutional support in choosing and using media or technology for teaching. CLEAR provides both instructional design and consulting services, as well as media production services.
  • Determine if the institutional support is easily accessible, helpful, and will meet the needs for the learning technologies for the course.
  • Determine if there is funding available to ‘buy the faculty out’ for a semester and/or to fund a student assistant to assist with designing a new course or revising an existing course.
  • Locate institutional funding or resources for any learning technology or media production.
  • Review the ‘standard’ institutional technologies, practices and procedures for teaching and learning to verify requirements for utilizing institutional technology resources, i.e. the learning management system, lecture capture system, etc.
  • Determine if the institution will support trying a new technological approach to learning and will support innovative media or digital design. CLEAR frequently provides funded opportunities for utilizing teaching technologies in UNT courses. Please visit the CLEAR website for more information.

Networking

  • Outline the importance for learners to network beyond a course, i.e. with subject specialists, professionals in the field, and relevant people in the community.
  • Identify how the course or student learning can benefit from networking and learning from external connections.
  • Determine the appropriate network and/or social media space to help learners network with each other and connect with external community members.
  • Integrate these networking mediums with standard course technology per the institution.

Security & Privacy

  • Determine the student information you are obliged to keep private and secure.
  • Identify the institutional policies for security and privacy for teaching & learning.
  • Outline potential risks and challenges of using a technology where institutional policies concerning privacy could easily be breached.
  • Identify who at your institution could best advise you on security and privacy concerns with regards to learning and teaching technologies.
  • Itemize the areas of teaching and learning, if any, available only to students registered in the course.
  • Identify the types of technologies to best restrict or limit access to course materials (if any) for registered students.

References

Bates, A. W. (2015). Chapter 8: Choosing and using media in education: The SECTIONS model. In Teaching in a Digital Age. [Open source e-book]. Retrieved from https://opentextbc.ca/teachinginadigitalage/part/9-pedagogical-differences-between-media/

Center for Learning Experimentation, Application, and Research. (2016). Teaching Resources for Engaged Educators [online training modules]. Denton, TX: University of North Texas.

Pasquini, L. A. (2015, April 3). Checklist: Selecting technology for learning. TechKnow Tools. [Web log]. Retrieved from https://techknowtools.wordpress.com/2015/04/03/checklist-technology-learning/