19 Advocating to Drop an Existing Tool

The worst-case scenario is that you were assigned to use a digital tool and in spite of your best efforts, it did not further your teaching goals or provide any meaningful benefit to you or your students. If you made a real, good-faith effort to succeed with the tool and still had a negative experience, it’s time to advocate with your institution to drop it.

This is a great moment to draw on the work you put in gathering data (see “Validating”) and considering the impact of the tool (see “Reflecting”). Convincing your institution to drop a digital tool will necessitate a well-supported argument. Organize your data, placing the most emphasis on any empirical measures you may have, such as time lost or a lack of student improvement. If you have student quotes expressing dissatisfaction — ideally with specific aspects of the tool such as slow load times or difficulty accessing content rather than more general negative remarks — be sure to include the most cogent as part of your case.

As this guide suggests elsewhere (see “Point to the Literature”), you may be able to bolster your case by finding research that aligns with your position. Some tools or functionality may be too new for this to be a viable strategy, but any number of digital approaches — from proctoring software to autograded writing prompts — have received attention and study. See if there is literature that supports your case.

With your particular institutional context in mind, consider suggesting some alternative options. People often receive criticism more willingly if it is accompanied by potential solutions. If you can find viable alternatives that you believe would better meet your and your students’ needs, include them in your case to drop the existing technology. This will demonstrate that you are not opposed to the tool simply because it is new or because it is technology, but because of its specific shortcomings.

Finally, be prepared for your efforts to take some time. Particularly if the technology was recently implemented, it is probable that your institution has invested time and resources in using the tool. Be consistent in tracking your experiences and persistent in respectfully bringing them to the decision-makers. You are all working together for the success of your students and in time you will find the solution that best meets everyone’s needs.

Research supporting this section. 


The Change Management Guide to Incorporating Educational Technology Copyright © by Sherry Mooney. All Rights Reserved.

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