15 For Student Support

There are a number of ways that your educational technology might support students, though few tools are likely to facilitate each of these methods. Below are some key means of support to consider when validating the tool.

Research supporting this section. 

Instructor Presence

This element is included under student support because it is students who truly benefit from experiencing your presence in and through the digital tools.  Think back to any preparations you made to provide instructor presence (see “Design for Instructor Presence”) and consider the ways the tool facilitated or hindered those efforts. Did it allow students to better engage with your feedback? Did it deliver video lectures? Did it make you feel more remote or make your directions more confusing?  Key areas of potential impact are the ways you deliver instruction or assess students, the ways you facilitate discussion and community within and through the tool, and the ways in which you design and organize materials within and through the tool.

As with student presence, it’s possible that the technology had a neutral impact on your ability to be ‘present’ and accessible to your students, but it is much more likely that some feature will have enhanced or detracted from your ability to connect to your students.

Research supporting this section. 

Student Presence

As an experienced instructor, you obviously have your own understanding of the type of student presence you want to incorporate into your course, from personal narratives to peer review to presentations and co-teaching. Whatever that looks like for you, consider how the tool supports or hinders your efforts on that front. Does it allow shy students to participate more actively through chat features? Does it simplify — or overcomplicate — group work?  Consider all the ways you want students to feel engaged and present in your course and how they intersect with the tool.

Consider looking at “Design for Student Presence” in this guide for more on the ways that you can leverage technology to support student presence in your course. As with instructor presence, it’s also possible that the technology has a neutral impact on student presence in your course, but it is much more likely that some feature will be pertinent to student presence.

Research supporting this section. 

Increased Engagement

Engagement is the holy grail of descriptors, and a tool that can actively and consistently engage students in the material of your course is worth quite a bit of trouble. There are a number of ways to consider this metric. If you have data from previous classes, you might look at the number of incomplete assignments with and without the technology. Within your own class, you might consider whether students made more comments or otherwise contributed more when engaging via the technology than they did otherwise. You will certainly want to consult the student feedback for indicators that the tool inspired them to participate, enjoy, or otherwise engage with the course material.

It is also worth considering the ways in which the tool might make engagement more apparent to you as the instructor, whether by showing you that students have opened a reading or clicked on your feedback, or some other means. This may be valuable information (see “Insights Provided”) that you did not previously have, but it does not necessarily signal that engagement has increased. As with most of your validation process, you will need to bring a measure of subjective understanding to the question of increased engagement.

Research supporting this section. 

Student Retention

This particular metric is likely not relevant to a large quantity of educational technology, particularly those tools being implemented by individual instructors. However, this is a growing segment of the industry and is worth a mention here. Some tools include — or are composed entirely of — elements intended to measure the likelihood of student retention and to offer insights or resources to help students to stay successfully enrolled in college. If your tool is intended to support this function, it will provide concrete data and metrics. In this, it is more straightforward to validate than other tools. Simply look at the data provided and compare year over year retention information. While it may take more than a year to move the needle, you should in time have concrete proof of the technology’s effectiveness (or lack thereof).

Research supporting this section. 


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

Share This Book