Technology Coaching

How to select the right edtech tool

"What Tool Should I Use for XYZ?"

Faculty members often approach academic technology professionals seeking recommendations for specific tools. This situation is akin to a cabinet maker who, when asked about the best nail for a project, first inquires about the project itself. Similarly, my approach is to steer the discussion towards understanding their objectives. By doing so, we can explore various options, possibly including the initially requested tool, to ensure they choose the most suitable tool for their needs.

Check out the slides of a presentation I shared during one of the communities of practice at Harvard.

Where Can We Live? Finding a Suitable Home for Faculty Development


The director of faculty development at Harvard Medical School inquired about the platforms available for faculty to create a professional development learning space. I sought details on their requirements and potential adoption barriers, then explored existing resources like the intranet, our learning management system (LMS) for staff, and OpenScholar. 

Initially, I considered the Training Portal, a Cornerstone OnDemand product used for staff development, due to its ease of access via single sign-on.


Despite its easy access and the desired functionality, the Training Portal proved challenging to maintain (only site administrators could update content), and it was not frequently visited by the faculty. Thus, I revisited the drawing board, ensuring no requirements were overlooked this time. We eventually chose the academic LMS, Canvas, for their space. It offered seamless access alongside the courses they teach, easy addition of editors to keep the content fresh and relevant.

Although my first recommendation did not pan out, the experience fostered a collaborative partnership with the faculty, continuing our joint search for an effective solution.