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Evaluating Technology for Classes


This happens to me all the time–a colleague mentions some cool new tool that they’ve used in their course and I think, “I need that for my class too!” Or I read in the Chronicle about some groovy new learning technology and I immediately start making plans to adopt it in my teaching.

But, as cool as any technology looks at first, is adopting it into my teaching really the right thing to do for me and my students? And how do I know?

To help determine just this, we have put together this webpage to help you think through all the ins and outs of the educational technology adoption process. By following the step-by-step process on this page, you can be assured that you have worked through all the ins and outs of technology adoption, ensuring that you have made the best technology choice for you and your students.

Step 1: Determine if and/or how the technology will improve your course.

You should only adopt technologies that will have a clear positive impact on your course. For this step, therefore, ask yourself if there is a particular area of your course that will be improved by using this tech or service. Or, is there a particular shortcoming in your course that this technology will address?

If you can’t determine a specific way in which this technology will help your course, you might want to chat with CETCI ( about how the technology might contribute to your course or you might want to think a bit more about why you want to adopt the technology.

On the other hand, if you can identify a specific way the technology will help your course, move on to step two.

Step 2. Determine how this technology will impact the workflow and workload of you and your students.

This may seem strange coming from us, but you can have too much technology in a course. Class time can be interrupted if students or instructors need to switch between different interfaces in a short period of time, students can be frustrated if they need to log into too many different services whether in class or on their own time. Moreover, you should think about how technology is currently being used in your course and if you already have a technological solution for the problem you are addressing–students can feel overwhelmed if they are being asked to do too many tech-based drills or activities around a specific topic or issue. Finally, consider whether adding this technology will overly increase the student or your own workload in the course.

At this stage, consider the possible workflow for using the technology. If it seems like using it will be burdensome on your or your students, or will be redundant with another technology in your course, you may want to reconsider using it. However, if you don’t think it will be overly burdensome on you, move to the next step.

Step 3. Determine whether Pacific licenses or owns the technology or service.

If Pacific owns or licenses the technology, move right on to step 5. How can you know this? Check the >CETCI webpage and look at our “Technologies” section. You can also drop us an e-mail at

However, if Pacific doesn’t own the technology, go to step 4.

Step 4: Things you need to consider if Pacific doesn’t own or license the technology you want to adopt.

Things to consider…


If your students will be submitting or creating work for your class on an online platform, that work is most likely covered by the Federal Education Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, otherwise known as FERPA. If the student work is covered by FERPA, you cannot REQUIRE that students use the software or service in your class, although you can suggest that do, and you MUST provide the students with an alternate and penalty-free way to perform that task that is FERPA compliant.

If you have questions about whether or not work done through a particular technology is FERPA compliant, or if you have questions about creating an alternative assignment, please contact us at CETCI (

Licenses and restrictions with “free” accounts or services.

Many “free” online services have limitations and restrictions, such as the number of users that can use the software, the types of tools that are available with free accounts, or length of time you can use the service before being charged. If you are adopting a free online service or software for your class, be sure to understand fully what, if any, restrictions a free account has and whether or not you or your students will be able to accomplish what they need to with those restrictions.


If you wish to adopt an online service for your class that you, your department, or if your students will need to buy it, you will probably need to have a security review conducted by UIS and have the contract approved by the Business Office. If you have questions about this, please contact CETCI ( and we can help you get started.

Integration with Moodle, Box, Google, etc.

Some online services can integrate with existing Pacific technologies like Moodle, the Googles suite, etc. If you would like to integrate a third-party service with one of these systems, please contact CETCI ( and we can help you get the process started.

Step 5. Learn how to use that tech!

It may seem to go without saying, but it is important to take the time to learn the technology you wish to implement in your class thoroughly before introducing it to your students. Knowing the technology inside and out will not only help the class run smoothly, but it will also help you troubleshoot basic problems your students might encounter—a particularly important point if you will be adopting a third-party service.

Step 6. Start small or run a pilot.

Well, you’ve made it through all of the steps and you’re ready to implement the tech in your classes. But wait! Before you go full scale in every course, try the tech on a small scale. Use if for a single low-stakes assignment, or try it out in a single class period. Doing so will help you work out any issues with running the software and will help you determine if the product will actually work as promised if you adopt it more broadly. It’s important to note that if you are not satisfied with the first small run or pilot, it is fine to try again until you feel confident with the software.

Step 7. Full Implementation.

You’ve done it! You’ve navigated the implementation process and you’ve found a cool new tool for your class. Be sure to tell CETCI how great the tool is so we can share it with your colleagues!

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