Backward Design: Choosing Technology Tools for Teaching

Backward Design: Choosing Technology Tools for Teaching


Develop learning goals before selecting a technology to support teaching and learning.

Choose technology that advances instructional goals rather than distracting from them.


Choosing a technology based on specific learning goals allows you to select the best fit for your activity and leads to less frustration in the long run.


Procedure/How to:

  • Seek: What support units exist for faculty to incorporate technology?
  • Ask: What should students get out of this activity/experience/assignment?
  • Ask: How much time should be devoted to students learning to master the technology versus completing the content-based learning objectives? Is the technology easy to use? Is learning the technology part of the goal?
  • To decrease their stress levels, explain to students that this is a new assignment, and it might have some glitches, or that they may experience frustration due to their inexperience with technology tools.
  • When beginning to incorporate technology, start small and scaffold the experience for students. Begin with one tool for one assignment and build up to more over time as you become more comfortable and confident.



  • Software changes rapidly and is sometimes difficult to support, so be sure to ask hard questions: Is the software free? Does it work on all computers? How easy is it for you or your institution to support? Does it have a good track record (no crashes, bugs, viruses, etc.)? Is it accessible to students with disabilities?
  • Consider the learning curve before selecting an application; students will abandon any application they find too difficult to use.
  • Try not to be seduced by “cool” or trendy technology that doesn’t really advance learning goals.



  • Beginner



Pitler, Howard, Elizabeth Ross. Hubbell, and Matt Kuhn. Using Technology with Classroom Instruction That Works. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2012. Print.


Wiggins, Grant P., and Jay McTighe. Understanding by Design. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 1998. Print.

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