So first, ask yourself these questions:
- What's the purpose of introducing or using this technology?
- Is there an incentive that needs to be clearly defined?
- What are my expectations around the use of this technology?
Knowing why and how you plan to use new technology you're introducing nurtures a more positive user experience for students and faculty, and it will also help you build your syllabus.
Your syllabus should include the following information:
1. Links to Frequently Asked Questions
Technology companies typically have a comprehensive FAQ section on their website that is searchable and frequently updated. It's important that your students know how to refer to the FAQ before reaching out to you or to company support.
Students might not know to look for an FAQ, so add the direct FAQ link and state it clearly in your syllabus. If there's a digital PDF version of the FAQ available on the site, you can download it and attach it directly to your syllabus; however, it's always easiest for students to type a question into an FAQ portal from their laptop or device.
2. How to Communicate With Tech Support
Do you want students emailing you with urgent technical questions and concerns? If you do, you shouldn't.
Due to varying devices, software versions, and many other unique factors, technical problems are usually not solved by a one-size-fits-all solution. As much as you'd love to help your students individually, by stepping in you might be creating a resolution time that's much longer than necessary. By encouraging students to connect with Tech Support, you empower them to solve the problem on their own.
Your syllabus should clearly indicate information like:
- How to contact the product's support line (by email, phone, or chat)
- The company's support hours of operation
- The expected time it takes to receive a response from support
- What type of information the student needs to send with their support inquiry (eg., class name, full name, email address, and any other important information like screenshots or other details that will help identify the case)
Most technology companies list the above information clearly on their website, and students who immediately ask you for help are skipping many other resources that could help resolve their issue much faster.
3. A Reasonable Implementation Timeline
The best practice is to outline a timeline that gives students the first few classes to register and get familiarized with a new technology. Some software might take time to move forward if a hiccup arises, like requiring an operating system update, a third-party installation, or device setting changes.
It isn't easy to estimate when everyone in the class will be on board, so giving a short but reasonable timeline will minimize the chance of individual students falling behind, or unnecessary headaches from the outset.
4. Your Clear Expectations
Without understanding the clear purpose of using a new technology, you run the risk of students dropping off mid-way through the semester or not opting in at all. Whether it's part of their grade, extra credit, or is simply a requirement to follow along in the course, it's important to clearly identify how you're going to evaluate or assess their use of the technology and why it's important that they participate.
Also, it's not uncommon for students to say that a tool they've used in the past is better than the one you're asking them to use. Outlining a good reason why you'd like them to make the change will help support a smoother migration.
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