Choosing the right environment

The technology used for your online program can determine what kind of learning activity you are able to create and how accessible the activity is.

Whether you are at an institution capable of creating its own webpage from scratch or would prefer to use existing platforms such phone apps, texting services, or Facebook, the technology you choose matters.

Rule #1: The technology should support the activity and program you are creating. This may seem like a no brainer, but if you are creating an activity where participants discuss photos they upload, make sure your platform can support uploading photos. If you want to have long and lengthy online conversations, make sure there isn't a character limit for online posts. Based on our definition of learning, online conversations are necessary for measurable learning in an online environment.

Rule #2: It should be accessible. Accessibility means a variety of things: the tech you choose should either be something your audience uses on a regular basis, or something that is easy to use and easy to learn. The price of the technology also factors into accessibility. If it costs $5 for a participant to buy the app needed to participate in your program, how will that limit participation? If it costs $50 to buy the equipment needed to participate, how will that limit participation?

Rule #3: Conversations are easy for outsiders to follow and chime in on If someone stumbled into your program half-way through, would they be able to track what was going on?

Rule #4: You have a way of connecting with your participants throughout the run of the program Whether it be by text, by email, or by Facebook alert, keeping participants aware and engaged in the program once they've navigated away from your page is key.