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New technologies can provide new opportunities for teaching and learning. But with so many available options, it can sometimes be overwhelming. Here are seven questions to help you determine if a technology is right for your course.

How does the technology help students meet the course's learning objectives?

Consider what you want students to know at the end of the course and how the technology can help them get there. When you're trying to decide if a technology is worth the time, cost, or effort, it is always important to understand how well the technology fits your course objectives and how much it will help students meet those objectives.

Will the technology fit with your teaching philosophy and style?

Most instructional technologies can be adapted to different teaching styles, philosophies, and situations. It can be challenging to incorporate a new technology if you're unsure how it fits your teaching style. When considering how the technology will work, it may help to see how other faculty use the technology or explore resources on the Office of Teaching, Learning, and Technology's website.

Will this technology help with future learning?

When there are multiple options, it can be valuable to review what technologies students are more likely to use in future classes as well as their academic and professional lives. Spending a little extra time to learn a new technology can be even more beneficial if students will use it beyond your course.

How will this impact student engagement?

Technology supports student engagement with course content, for example, using Top Hat questions during lectures or annotation tools like Perusal for readings.

These tools can also encourage students to connect with their peers through online discussions in ICON, peer editing and evaluation with Peerceptiv, or in-class discussion options with Top Hat.

How much time/effort will it take to learn this technology?

Instruction takes time, effort, and energy, and it's worth considering how much you have available—in general and this semester. Sometimes it makes sense to delay implementing new technologies when making important changes to a course, while other times the right technology can make improvements even more effective.

Students will also need time to learn the technology, and if they need help, they will often approach their instructors. If a technology is commonly used at Iowa, students are more likely to have used it in other courses and be able to help each other learn the technology.

What support is available for this technology?

The ITS Help Desk can help you find assistance for UI-supported technology, and the Office of Teaching, Learning, and Technology offers resources, trainings, and recordings of past trainings for several supported technologies, including ICON, Top Hat, and Gradescope. Some instructional technology vendors provide support and documentation, too.

Checking on support options early in the process can make it easier to seek help later.

It's important to know that university supported technologies have also gone through an approval process to ensure they are correctly licensed, appropriately manage student data, and meet accessibility standards. If you have a technology you're interested in implementing that hasn't been through the approval process, please contact your college's IT director for assistance starting the technology review process. 

What are the costs to students?

Some technologies require students to purchase them. In that case, you can see if the technology is available through ICON Direct, which usually offers a discount for students, or if the university supports similar options that are free to students. The right technology can be worth the cost if it helps students achieve course objectives.