Standard 2. Course technology and tools


2.0: All technology that will be used in the course is listed and explained in the syllabus.

Any hardware, software, or technology applications that are required for successful participation in the course are introduced along with resources that support a full range of student mastery. This information is communicated to students in the syllabus and reinforced throughout the term.

It has been well established that technology problems and ambiguous instructions frustrate online students (Hara & Kling, 1999). Access issues need to be mitigated early on in order for students to succeed. Additionally, instructors may want to remind students of what skill level is needed to fully participate in the course. For example, if the course incorporates an advanced technical program, students should be told as much in the syllabus and course information section.

If students are required to use third-party content (publisher websites, online labs, assignment utilities, web-based subscriptions), links to associated resources, and explanations about how to access this content are included in easy-to-locate course documents.


2.1: Students can easily access frequently used technology tools. Any tools not being utilized are removed from the course menu.

If resources or tools are no longer being used in the course, remove associated links from the course navigation menu. Students rely on consistent navigation cues (established menus, etc.), but a link to a tool that they no longer need can be considered a distraction in the course. Again, students reported much lower levels of efficiency and motivation within online courses with low findability (Simunich et al., 2015). When required to spend extra time sorting through links to unrelated course tools, students become frustrated and sidetracked.


2.2: Course includes links to privacy policies for technology tools.

The University’s Privacy policy stipulates that it “will not sell, exchange or otherwise distribute your personally identifiable information without your consent, except to the extent required by law.” This applies to all sites in the UNR domain, including WebCampus.

If instructors use technology programs not previously vetted and supported by the University, they must include a privacy policy statement or legal document detailing what type of information is monitored, collected, and/or distributed by a third-party technical program or through the registration process for an external tool (i.e., homework manager program).

Students should be provided access to information about the degree to which their information (identities, submissions, logons) is being monitored, collected, and/or distributed. Students entrust the University with their personal information and expect that information to be protected. Additionally, transparency is one of the top rights related to student privacy policies (Strauss, 2014), and students should have direct, simple access to any policies related to technology tools used in their courses.

Privacy policies can be obtained from campus administrative offices and textbook and program reps. Links to these policies should be checked on a regular basis to be sure that they are still valid.