Too often in the EdTech world we spend the majority of our time finding the right technology, getting funding approved, installing, etc., but much less time promoting technology to ensure that it is actually being used by students and staff. This “getting the word out” is especially difficult in the university setting, where students are more independent and scattered about on and off campus. In addition, much of the technology available for students is not a requirement but an optional support for those who know where and how to access it.
To help, we’ve collected some tips from universities across the country who have had success getting students to use newly adopted software. Not only can this help to justify the cost of technology purchases, but also to increase the retention and achievement of the students who use those purchases. While these tips come from those in higher education, many can also benefit others, including K-12 schools and corporations who are looking to get the word out about technology.
During orientation, distribute literature for technology that is available to them. For example, North Dakota State University added postcards about Read&Write software to orientation packets in addition to dropping off additional copies at the student affairs office.
If software has been purchased to benefit all students campus-wide, advertise it and offer training to all departments, regardless of which department purchased it. For example, if Disability Services purchases new literacy support software, make it a point to advertise it and offer training to other departments such as TRIO, ELL/ESL, Academic Support Services, Athletics, Veterans Affairs, and more.
Introduce software during common introductory courses that are designed to assist students in making a successful transition into Higher Education.
Advertise and offer free coffee or other social events in the evening where students and staff can learn about technology that is available. Keep the training short, focused, and concise.
In addition to email, many universities now send students who opt in text message alerts about events, announcements and more. Use this channel to inform students of new technology available with a link to learn more. Also, take advantage of listservs to connect with staff, faculty, and students.
Let students know that the software is installed on a computer or computers when in a public location. For example, placing a sticker on the monitor, having a guide or quick reference card available next to the computer, or placing posters or signs in the lab are all easy ways to inform students.
Use your learning management system homepage for students to learn about and download available software.
Continue to spread the word throughout the year. As the school year progresses, send reminders to staff and students about software and support available.
Success creates more success. Share videos, images, or stories of students who are successfully using the technology. Enlist students to help promote use or train other students.
Spread the word through school newspapers, television channels, and radio stations to inform everyone of the technology available. Some schools have even placed flyers with QR codes in public places that lead students to more information.
Consider offering students private monitored testing areas with AT available, or scanning stations so they can make their books accessible. Have student experts available to share their experiences and best practices.
Have you found other ways to help get the word out about technology on your campus? Let us know in the comments section below.