Matching learning outcomes with technologies

There is no shortage of excellent tools and technologies that are available to be implemented in classrooms, both virtual and physical. But a critical question is how to match those technologies with the learning outcomes for the course. In today’s class it was emphasized that a best practice is to first set the goals and learning outcomes, and then work backward to decide which technologies best facilitate the students’ learning. As educators, we have moved past the question of whether these technologies are beneficial, as hybrid learning allows students to achieve the same level of success as traditional learning, and so now we can focus on the efficacy of individual technologies.

Across classroom technologies, there appears to be a broad division between comprehensive solutions that are complex and simple solutions that are elegant. The former comprehensive solutions allow many functions to be accomplished in a seamless package, but runs the risk of requiring extensive training to use that package, and/or not exactly matching all the needs of the instructor or students. The latter simple solutions allow maybe 1 or 2 functions to be implemented very well, but creates the challenge of integrating across different packages or services.

From an educator standpoint, an area of opportunity for growth for these simple software solutions would be for these technology companies to develop with standards and interoperability in mind. While the companies that make comprehensive solutions (such as Blackboard) might not appreciate this business model, having standards and interoperability in simple solutions would allow an instructor to pick and choose the tools that have features that are particularly useful for achieving a specific set of learning outcomes, and easily have those distinct tools work well together even if they are developed by different companies. Being able to achieve an easy integration of simple yet elegant solutions would greatly motivate educators to choose those solutions over alternatives that work only in isolation.

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