Technologies to Consider

Technologies are the foundation of any online course. Each online course is offered within a designated platform or learning management system (LMS, also known as course management system); for example Canvas, Desire2Learn, or Moodle. Most online courses integrate a number of other supplemental learning technologies. Although the LMS options might be limited or dictated by campus licenses, there are many possibilities when it comes to the smaller, more varied educational technologies that can aid learning in a number of different ways. While many of these are officially supported on-campus, there are other web-based tools worth considering adding to an online course.


Why Is It Important?

Selecting technologies and using them in the best way possible dramatically impacts students’ educational experience in the online environment. Technologies have enormous potential to make a course fun and interesting as they can successfully support the learning outcomes and complement the instructional materials. However, if they are not included strategically or without sufficient technical support, educational technologies can quickly become a distraction for students or even impede the teaching and learning experience altogether. Indeed, technologies in an online course should be used purposefully, productively and seamlessly.


Information to Consider

Because the Internet offers a tremendous variety of tools or capabilities that can be used for online learning, instructors must be very deliberate and intentional with their choices and implementation of technology in their online course.

Note: Select the plus sign or headings to reveal additional content.


Where to Find Resources?

Access a dynamic list of commonly used tools provided in Diigo.

Diigo is a social bookmarking website which allows registered users to bookmark, tag, and create an outline of web resources. The Outliner view of Diigo was used to share important information of each technology:

  • What is it?
  • Educational Uses
  • Tutorials & Resources

Technologies Often Used in an Online Course

With each of these technologies, it is important for instructors to be aware of the risks and rewards associated with them. For example, individuals have incredible opportunities for consuming and generating information; however, issues of copyright quickly arise regarding content made available through interactive, collaborative tools. While this should not deter instructors from using these tools, it should prepare them to establish a code of conduct and expectations around use of such tools.


Broad Purpose of Tool Specific Functions of Tool Examples of Tools
Present Static Content and Activities Author text-based documents Microsoft Word, Adobe Acrobat, Google Apps
Author webpages and websites Adobe Dreamweaver, WordPress, Google Apps
Provide non-linear access to web-based content. Hyperlinks
Allow user to generate and share text-based documents Google Apps, (UW-Madison Login)
Allow user to post written compositions related to course content Google Sites, WordPress, Blogger, Pbworks, Wikispaces, Google Apps
Allow user to build and populate website Google Sites, WordPress
Present Media Content and Activities Create presentations and animations Microsoft PowerPoint, Google Apps
“Whiteboard”: freehand drawing or annotation (asynchronously or synchronously) ShowMe, Google Apps
Stream audio one-way (asynchronously) Kaltura, Podcasts
Stream video one-way (asynchronously) Kaltura, YouTube
Share application (synchronously) Blackboard Collaborate, Google Hangouts
Simulate or gamify real-world environments or situations (asynchronously) Case Scenario/Critical Reader Builder, Adobe Captivate
Enable Communication Convey short, informational messages (asynchronously) News or announcements tool (in LMS)
Convey longer, informational messages (asynchronously) Email  – Outlook (WiscMail)
Submit and respond to questions to class (asynchronously) Discussion boards (in LMS), Padlet
Instant message  (synchronously) D2L Chat, Google Hangouts, WiscChat
Social Media Integration Post short comments and messages and network with classmates within context of course Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, LinkedIn
Bookmark resources in common area Diigo
Share audio Audioboom, SoundCloud
Share video YouTube, Vimeo, Instagram, Pinterest


Please note: Not all of the listed technologies are officially supported by the university.