Technology in an online environment can offer additional resources over traditional teacher-led instruction (Morrison, Ross, Kalman, Kemp, 2013). Technology and multimedia in an online environment have enhanced the interaction and collaboration among the learners in the asynchronous and synchronous learning networks (Beldarrain, 2006). This collaboration has produced an authentic learning community for the learners. The technology selected must make sense in the context of the instructional goals and it should not increase the cognitive load for the learner in their effort to obtain knowledge. The ID should also build the technology tools into the design process for the course. This effort increases the engagement of the learner, particularly when video and audio are used. Audio and video provide an experience that can draw the attention of the learner, makes the activity more natural, and creates a more satisfying experience for the learner (Boettcher, & Conrad, 2010).
Important considerations that an online instructor should make before implementing technology is to select tools that they are comfortable using and limit the number of tools to use in the online environment. As the online instructor experience grows in the online environment they can implement the use of additional technology tools. Online instructions may also ask their students what technology tools they enjoy using and encourage them to use the tools in their assignments. The online instructor will also gain further knowledge on the preferred tools of the learner community.
Usability and accessibility of technology tools for online teaching must receive careful consideration. Today there are government regulations pertaining to disabled people’s access to education and online information. Therefore, adjustments must be made when designing the online learning environment and when considering the technology tools.
According to the article in the ALT-J, Research in Learning Technology, the introduction of e-learning technologies should not put barriers in the way of disabled students accessing their learning (2007). The UK legislation states that reasonable adjustments should be made to meet the needs of disabled students in accessing the curriculum (Cooper, Colwell, & Jelfs, 2007). One such reasonable adjustment is addressing accessibility and usability issues in e-learning developments (Cooper, Colwell, & Jelfs, 2007). If this is not adequately done, then a judgment has to be made as to whether that particular development can, in fact, be deployed (Cooper, Colwell, & Jelfs, 2007). Conducting formative evaluations that solicit feedback on the usability and accessibility of the technology tools is a good measure of the effectiveness of the tools and impact on the learner. It also allows the online instructor to implement necessary changes to the design and selection of the technology tools.
The technology tools that appeal to me are blogs and wikis. I see them as engaging collaborative tools that are rather easy to learn. I have enjoyed using wikis in group course projects because it provides a platform for multiple users to share information and provide feedback. I also enjoy the use of YouTube for creating instructional and informational videos to share with the online community. Skype and Google Hangouts are also excellent real-time synchronous tools that are useful for online learning activities.
As an online instructor implementing effective online strategies I will pace myself in the use of using technology tools. As I stated above I will select tools that I am comfortable using and limit the number of tools to use in the online environment. When considering online technology tools it is important to remember that the primary objective is how well it helps the instructors and learners achieve the desired instructional goal (Morrison, Ross, Kalman, Kemp, 2013).
Beldarrain, Y. (2006). Distance education trends: Integrating new technologies to foster student interaction and collaboration. Distance Education 27(2), 139-153
Boettcher, J. V., & Conrad, R. (2010). The online teaching survival guide: Simple and practical pedagogical tips. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass
Cooper, M., Colwell, C., & Jelfs, A. (2007). Embedding accessibility and usability: Considerations for e-learning research and development projects. ALT-J: Research in Learning Technology, 15(3), 231-245.
Morrison, G. R., Ross, S. M., Kalman, H. K., & Kemp, J. E. (2013). Designing effective instruction (7th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Chapter 10, “Designing Considerations for Technology-Based Instruction” (pg. 224)