Instructional Tools

Learn about the digital tools that you can integrate to enhance your course design.

On this page:

Choosing the Appropriate Digital Tools

In this final step of the course design process, we will consider how tools may impact what you believe you may or may not be able to do in your course. For example, you may have decided that the size of your course will prevent student group work. Learning about possible tools and their uses, however, may give you ideas for how students might work together even when they are apart.

There are many digital tools available. For those teaching at the University at Buffalo, it is suggested to use the teaching tools that are pre-approved by the University. Choosing these tools allows you and your students to receive support and guidance when needed. On the other hand, if you choose third-party tools, you add an additional role by becoming the technology support liaison for your students. However, depending on your purpose and objective, it may be necessary to use a third-party tool.

Guiding Questions

When choosing digital tools, it is important to consider whether a tool will help further support and enhance your students’ learning experiences, or whether the tool may become a distraction to learning. To make this determination consider the following questions:

  • What will the tool solve or improve?
  • What are the pedagogical values and implications?
  • How important is this technology pedagogically?
  • How complex will the support be?

It is also important to consider the barriers that the tool may potentially cause. Ask yourself these questions to help reduce potential barriers:

  • What will limit an instructor and students from accessing this technology?
  • How reliable is the technology?
  • How complex is the technology?
  • How difficult will it be for an instructor and students to use this technology?
  • How difficult will it be for an instructor and students to improve teaching and learning with this technology?
  • How accessible is the tool for instructor and students?

Orienting Your Students

When you choose a specific digital tool, you must make sure to orient your students – how to use it, what it does, and how it will support their learning experience. You can do this by:

  • designing videos, documents and practice assignments
  • showing how the technology tool will be used
  • including a cheat sheet of basic skills students will need to use the tool
  • providing a detailed list of instructions to login and navigate issues or problems
  • adding a section for privacy policies
  • considering adding a discussion board for tech questions: doing so allows everyone to support each other

Utilizing Resources

Because there are so many tools to choose from, it may be helpful to view how other instructors have used the tools. Review the SUNY OSCQR rubric for guidance, as well as network with other instructors in your discipline, or seek support from UBIT or CATT. Further, whether a course is face-to-face or online, you can utilize these tools across delivery modes.

We have compiled a list of tools, uses, best practices, and further resources on our Tools page.

Integrating Digital Tools

After taking the time to consider the pedagogical rationale for using a specific digital tool, it is important to determine how and where the digital tool will fit into your course design, as well as the additional skills students may need to have and the accessibility standards that are needed.

  • Step one: Review your course design template and identify course elements where you believe technology could enhance your students’ learning experiences.
  • Step two: Next, consider how the tool will help your students achieve the learning outcomes.
  • Step three: Integrate the digital tool into your course design (e.g., activity or assessment).
  • Step four: Determine the pre-requisite skills, technical skills and accessibility guidelines your students will need to use the tool successfully.
  • Step five: Observe, reflect and collect feedback from your students’ experiences using the tool.

Next Steps

When you have finished gathering ideas from other courses and resources, the next step is to begin building your course.