Gen-z students may be digital natives, but that doesn't mean they'll immediately understand or know how to use a new app, software, or other technology that you're introducing to your class. In fact, our research has found that fewer than 10% of students will correctly troubleshoot technical support needs they experience.
Even though there's an inevitable learning curve for trying something new and unfamiliar, educators can facilitate this process and make it easier for students. Here are the PIE questions we recommend you ask yourself:
- What's the Purpose of introducing or using this technology?
- Is there an Incentive that needs to be clearly defined?
- What are your 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 out your syllabus.
Your syllabus should include the following information:
1. Links to Frequently Asked Questions
Even though you've probably never seen it, every tech company from Snapchat to Uber has a very detailed and comprehensive FAQ section on their website that's searchable and regularly updated. The FAQ is a database of answers to thousands questions companies receive frequently, so it's not uncommon to find even the most unusual question answered there. FAQs are also getting smarter, so that the best answers are shown to you based on similar queries others have searched for.
It's very important that your students know how and where to refer to a company's FAQ when they need to. Not every student will instinctively know to look for an FAQ, so it's your responsibility to make the website clearly accessible in your syllabus. We also recommend emailing your students the website link or posting it to your online portal so that students can quickly reference it from their phones. The FAQ should be quick and easy to find, so that students can type a question into the search bar from their phone or laptop and quickly find the answer. Just make sure they know where to do it.
2. How to Communicate With Tech Support
When students can't find (or don't even look for) their answers on the FAQ, chances are they'll come to you with their questions. But do you really want students emailing you with urgent technical support need at any hour of the day? If you do, you shouldn't.
Why? There are hundreds of devices, operating systems, software versions, and so many other unique factors that make many technical questions unsolvable by a one-size-fits-all solution. As much as you'd love to help your students one by one, stepping in to help might actually make it harder to solve the problem. By redirecting students to connect with the company's tech support team, you empower students to solve the problem on their own. Plus, companies pay their employees to help you — so don't take on the work yourself.
To ensure the best support experience, your syllabus should clearly indicate information like:
- Ways to contact the company's support line (eg., by email, phone, or chat)
- 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)
- The company's support hours of operation
- The expected time it takes to receive a response from support
Make sure this is clearly laid out in your syllabus so that students know not to ask you for help, and instead seek better resources that could resolve their issue much faster.
3. A Reasonable Implementation Timeline
Not all technology can be implemented and ready to go in five seconds. Have you ever tried setting up a Google Home? Exactly.
When you're implementing a brand new technology for your students, the best practice is to outline a timeline that gives students the first few classes to create an account and get familiarized with the platform. Some software may even take time to move forward for unforeseen reasons — like requiring an OS update, a third-party installation, or settings changes.
It isn't easy to estimate when everyone in the class will be on board, so giving a short but reasonable timeline of a week or two will minimize the chance of individual students falling behind, or unnecessary headaches from the outset.
4. Define Your PIE
Without understanding your Purpose, Incentives, and Expectations from using a new software, 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 progress 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 now. No one likes change. But as long you are confident in this technology, outlining a good reason why you'd like them to make the change will help support a smoother migration over.
Are you interested in implementing a new technology like Flipd? Our team will walk you through how to introduce Flipd into your classroom and make recommendations like these that are specific to your syllabus. Book a demo or explore a sample class for free today.