Provide Technical Support Information for Tools

Quality Review Showcase

The Quality and High Quality online course reviews explore components proven to be best practices in online course design. This post showcases Quality item, “Technical support information (e.g. tutorials, instructions) for using technology tools are provided.”

It can be easy to assume that students know how to use online tools simply because most students frequently use the Internet. However, there are tools used academically that can be unfamiliar to them and quite complex as well. Tools such as SPSS, MATLAB, and ArcGlobe are all powerful, but if students do not know how to access or use them properly and easily, course performance and satisfaction can be impacted.

If a special tool is used, it is recommended to inform the students about the tool at the beginning of the class – what it is, what it’s designed to do, how to access it, how much it costs (if any), and where to go for additional help.

What Are Some Ways Your Online Course Can Be Designed to Meet This Standard?

  • In the syllabus, note any special technologies that will be used in the course. List the technology, cost (if any), and how it can be accessed. The FCTL Syllabus Statement page lists this as an SPSS example:

You will be required to have access to SPSS for your assignments for this course. My recommendation is that you have SPSS installed on your personal computer since you will be using this software frequently throughout the semester. Please see the UCF Technology Product Center for details on student discounts for this software. In addition, SPSS is available via UCF Apps at https:

  • Many tools already have existing tutorials and instructions available online. Look through official documentation as well as tutorials that others have created. Make sure to check the version it is referencing.
  • Include technical support resources in a “Course Expectations” page. Use the Templater tool to insert a template of Course Expectations that you can edit. Links include Center for Distributed Learning, Webcourses@UCF Support, and Knights Online, but you could add additional links concerning the technology tools.
  • Include a question about technical assistance in a Getting Started quiz. For instance, “You are using the SPSS program accessed through UCF Apps to finish your assignment and suddenly it crashes. Who do you contact?” (Answer: UCF IT)

What Does This Look Like in a Real Online Course?

Example 1. Michelle Kwon, MAC114C, College Trigonometry

Students in Dr. Kwon’s course use WebAssign by Cengage daily for its etextbook and assignments, so her course displays technical support information for these tools prominently in the Modules page.

Dr. Kwon’s course modules screenshot

Example 2. Richard Jerousek, PHY2049 (Physics 2 with Calculus)

Dr. Jerousek provides information about technical support for obtaining the etextbook in his syllabus.

Opting-In to obtain eText and access to Mastering Astronomy/Learning Catalytics:

Most of the work you complete in this AST 1002 course will be done in Pearson’s Mastering Astronomy, this is also where you will find your eText for reading and review.

  • To enhance your learning experience and provide affordable access to the right course material, this course is part of an inclusive access model called First Day™. You can easily access the required materials for this course at a discounted price, immediately and benefit from single sign-on access with no codes required in UCF Webcourses.
  • UCF Student Account Office will bill you at the discounted price as a course charge for this course. This charge will be posted to your account on January 13, 2020 for Spring 2020.
  • It is recommended that you Opt-In as these materials are required to complete the course.

Opting-In and Accessing your eTextbook:

Opting-In for your Courseware Materials:

Customer Care Contact Information:

Customer Care is available 24/7 to help students with questions about accessing their course material, using their eTextbook, or opting-out or into the First Day program.

Example 3.  Steven Hornik, ACG6415, Advanced Accounting Information Systems

Dr. Hornik used Flipboard, a platform that allows users to gather articles of interest, video clips, GIFs, and other media sources from the Internet, and organize those sources into a magazine. The content is viewable on any iOS or Android device, and can also be viewed through a web browser. Users can interact with one another within the generated magazine.

Dr. Hornik created a digital magazine through Flipboard and then invited the students to the “Cybersecurity” magazine as collaborators. He provided support by demonstrating Flipboard during the face-to-face portion of the class, as well as providing links to Flipboard’s tutorials and support center. Read more about his use of Flipboard.

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