OSCQR – Standard #8

OSCQR – Standard #8

Course provides appropriate guidelines for successful participation regarding technical requirements (e.g., browser version, mobile, publisher resources, secure content, pop-ups, browser issues, microphone, webcam).

Review These Explanations

Technology supports the online space, and instructors and learners both need to be aware of technology requirements for accessing and participating in all online course components. Learners may be accessing courses on desktop or laptop computers, and/or mobile devices. Having appropriate technology and knowledge of related issues–and their solutions–can limit obstacles to a successful online teaching and learning experience.

Learners are likely to become frustrated if technology issues arise when they are working in an online course, or accessing additional required material. If course materials include a textbook companion website, learners need clear instructions on how to access and navigate that site.

The SUNY Online Help Desk, or your campus-based help desk, should be referenced for help and expertise with any issues that arise from different operating systems and devices (mobile, laptops, etc.). Take advantage of SUNY Online Help Desk ( or your campus-based help desk) resources, including guidance on technology requirements for learners in online classes, and link to those resources in the Course Information/Syllabus materials. Also include links to textbook publisher reference and help sites, if using textbook companion websites in your course.

Research suggests that online students are increasingly using mobile devices to engage in and complete online course activities and assignments, (Magda & Aslanian, 2018). Designing online course content and activities with that in mind is, therefore, critical to the overall accessibility of the course.

Optimizing for mobile devices:

  • Test the course on multiple mobile devices.
  • Divide content into small, manageable chunks.
  • Minimize the number of ‘clicks’ to reach content and reduce scrolling.
  • Provide hyperlinks for embedded content.
  • Specify width in percentages, instead of pixels for iframes, etc.
  • Use PDFs as much as possible, when file attachments are necessary.
  • Communicate appropriate methods and devices for accessing and participating in the course (publisher websites, secure content, pop-ups, browser issue, microphone, webcam).
  • Ensure that directions for content are applicable for all delivery devices (i.e., mobile devices, laptops, or desktop computers).
  • Ensure any apps that are required for students are available on both Android and iOS mobile platforms.
  • Avoid the use of tables and multiple levels of indents.
  • Avoid placing text to the left or right of images.
  • Avoid content that does not work on mobile devices (such as Flash and Java).

Refresh Your Course with These Ideas

General Suggestions

  • The course provides a required materials section – usually part of the Course Information/Syllabus materials
  • Send or prepare automated announcements to reinforce awareness of the course technical requirements, and how to access technical assistance or support.
  • Interaction on these topics can be designed into the course, incorporated into ice-breaking activities at the start of the course, or other introductory activities to provide student support, and the opportunity for questions and answers around these access to technical support.
  • Have an Ask a Question area discussion forum specifically soliciting interaction with the instructor around Course Technical Requirements.
  • Collaborate with your colleagues to create quick reference sheet on the technology you expect learners to be using in your courses, and adopt it across your program, department, institution. Set a schedule to update it together on a regular basis.
  • Check with the IT department to see what reference guides are available for learners, and include those in your Course Information/Syllabus materials.
  • Test every element of your course on multiple types of devices (e.g., laptop and mobile device) before you go live. If you ask learners to access an external textbook site, be sure that you can access it as a learner first.
  • Ask learners at the end of the term for feedback on their frustrations with technology. This can guide the instructions and information you share the next time you teach the course.
  • Include this information in your course Welcome video, or create a separate screencast overview video detailing what devices and access methods will work best for the course (be sure to provide captions in your video, and/or a narrative script for your videos for accessibility).

Examples

  • From FAQs about SUNY Online – “You should have access to a computer with a high speed, broadband or DSL internet connection. Due to the nature of downloading and viewing rich media, dial-up connections are not recommended. You should also be using an internet browser that is supported by your campus.”Explore your course on your own mobile device to see which features work well, and which features can be troublesome.

Explore Related Resources

Shackel, B. (2004). A user’s experience. British Journal of Educational Technology, 35(5), 645-656. Retrived from https://ur.booksc.eu/dl/9028292/673b58 – .pdf.

Magda, A. J., & Aslanian, C. B. (2018). Online college students 2018: Comprehensive data on demands and preferences. Louisville, KY: The Learning House, Inc. Retrieved from https://49hk843qjpwu3gfmw73ngy1k-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/OCS-2018-Report-FINAL.pdf

Magda, A. J., Capranos, D., & Aslanian, C. B., (2020). Online college students 2020: Comprehensive data on demands and preferences. Louisville, KY: Wiley Education Services. Retrieved from https://edservices.wiley.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/OCS2020Report-ONLINE-FINAL.pdf

Share What You Know

OSCQR has been developed by a community of online practitioners interested in quality course design. There are numerous opportunities for community members to offer suggestions, donate resources, and help with future development.

Discuss this standard in the comments section at the bottom of this page.

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