SECTIONS Analysis

As mentioned previously, Bates & Poole have developed the SECTIONS Analysis Framework to help distance educators and instructional designers select the right types of technologies to integrate into their courses. As an elementary or high school teacher, you too, are often faced with similar types of choices and can benefit from using this framework when developing your lesson plans.

Each letter of SECTIONS represents a component or question that should be addressed before selecting a technology for education purposes. The section below will provide you with an overview of each of these components, as defined by Bates & Poole. Once you have read through the questions to consider in regards to each section, click on the title to be directed to a page that will further elaborate on each question and explain how you, as a teacher, can apply this framework to your classroom.


Questions to consider: What is known about the students - or potential students - and the appropriateness of the technology for this particular group or range of students? (Bates & Poole, 2003, p. 79) What are the student demographics? What type of access to the students have in regards to this particular technology? What are the students' differences in respect to learning with technology?


Questions to consider: How easy is it for both teachers and students to use? How reliable and well tested is the technology? (Bates & Poole, 2003, p. 79) How long would it take to learn how to use this technology? Would training be available? How simple is the interface design of this technology? How reliable is this technology?


Questions to consider: What is the cost structure of each technology? What is the unit cost per learner? (Bates & Poole, 2003, p. 79) What are the items of expenditure in regards to this technology? What are the drivers of cost?


Questions to consider: What kinds of learning are needed? What instructional approaches will best meet these needs? What are the best technologies for supporting this teaching and learning? (Bates & Poole, 2003, p. 79) How will this type of learning best be assessed?


Questions to consider: What kind of interaction does this technology enable? (Bates & Poole, 2003, p. 79) Does this technology provide a high quality of interaction? 


Questions to consider: What are the organizational requirements and the barriers to be removed before this technology can be used successfully? What changes in organization need to be made? (Bates & Poole, 2003, p. 79) 


Questions to consider: How new is this technology? (Bates & Poole, 2003, p. 80) How familiar are the students and teachers with this technology? 


Questions to consider: How quickly can courses be mounted with this technology? How quickly can materials be changed? (Bates & Poole, 2003, p. 80) To what extent can this technology be handed over to someone else to use? 

By reflecting on each component of the SECTIONS Analysis Framework when selecting technology for your classroom, you will begin to identify the advantages and disadvantages of each particular technology. By doing so, you be able to make an informed choice, and therefore be more likely to succeed in using technology with your students. The following section will provide you with a simple go-to table that you can use to perform your own SECTIONS Analysis.