When pedagogy and tech intersect
Using various tools and technology can be beneficial, and often necessary, to engage all students in HyFlex courses. The purpose of this unit is to provide a framework for making effective decisions about the types and uses of technology for teaching and learning.
To ensure your technology decisions are rooted in pedagogy, it is important to consider a number of key factors. Lauren Anstey and Gavan Watson at the University of Western Ontario created the Rubric for eLearning Tool Evaluation, a robust rubric for evaluating the functional, technical, and pedagogical aspects of educational technologies for use in teaching and learning.
You will find the main considerations of the rubric listed below. Click on each heading to learn more.
Please read the following article, A Rubric for Evaluating E-Learning Tools in Higher Education, written by Lauren Anstey and Gavan Watson, as they explain their rationale for developing the rubric, as well as additional explanations about each category.
Then, reflect on the following questions:
- The authors mention faculty frustrations while selecting an e-learning tool. Have you ever experienced such frustrations? Why or why not?
- From the 8 categories listed on the rubric, think about the three categories that resonated with you the most. Why?
- In what ways can this rubric help in selecting e-learning tools for the HyFlex environment?
Applying the rubric
The case study below demonstrates how the rubric can be used with a selected technology and specific course considerations.
Professor Nigel Eng is looking for ways to engage his F2F, synchronous, and asynchronous students in each week’s lesson. He heard from a colleague about an interactive slide deck platform called NearPod and wants to conduct more research before adopting it. He is going to use the University of Western Ontario’s Rubric for eLearning Tool Evaluation to identify the viability of this tool. Professor Eng will apply the rubric to his third-year psychology class, which has 36 students this semester.
Below, you will see how Professor Eng has scored Nearpod against the rubric while considering his course needs. Click on the checkmarks to view his comments.
Note: This assessment of Nearpod was done in 2021. Please keep in mind that technology is constantly changing and this assessment may be out of date by the time you read it. This example assessment is meant to aid you in how to evaluate tools you might adopt in your classrooms.
Now that Nigel has evaluated Nearpod against the Rubric for E-Learning Tool Evaluation, he needs to analyze the results. He has 18 elements that work well, 7 elements of minor concern, and 1 element of serious concern.
His serious concern is that the free version Nearpod only allows up to 40 participants, which will not work for his larger classes. He needs to decide if it is worth learning a new tool for only one class. Another option would be for Nigel to ask his manager or department lead if they can purchase a license that allows for more participants and features. If there are other faculty using this tool, perhaps purchasing an institutional license is an option.
As for the elements of minor concern, Nigel can decide whether any of those elements would cause him to abandon the tool or whether they are manageable according to his needs.
Keep in mind that the analysis of a tool may differ from colleague to colleague, and that’s okay! A tool may not offer the same solutions for all courses, and it can be difficult to accurately assess a tool you have never used.
Also, just because a tool does not meet a majority of the ‘works well’ elements, does not mean it never will. Changing course needs, different teaching styles, technology upgrades, and your own comfort level with tech can greatly impact the usefulness of a tool that you once deemed unfit for your course.
This is why it is important to consider multiple factors before deciding to invest time (and sometimes money) into a tool for the HyFlex environment.
Apply the Rubric for eLearning Tool Evaluation to an engagement tool that you are considering using in the HyFlex environment. You may select a tool on your own or choose one from this list of tech tools for HyFlex.
Then, determine whether or not you would use this tool, keeping in mind how it scored on the rubric, and your own course needs. If you decide to use it, think about how you can begin learning and implementing the tool. If you decide against using the tool, think about what would need to change for you to reconsider.
In this unit, we discussed how using various tech tools can enhance engagement in your HyFlex course, but that selecting the right tool is important. You explored a case study using Lauren Anstey and Gavan Watson’s Rubric for eLearning Tool Evaluation and considered how tech tools can vary from instructor to instructor, course to course.
When selecting a tech tool, it is important to consider the following factors: functionality, accessibility, technical details, mobile design, privacy/data protection rights, social presence, teacher presence, and cognitive presence.