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Empower Students through Academic Technology

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Academic technology can be used to support student engagement in a variety of ways, from incorporating technology in accessible ways into your classroom activities to making use of academic technology to better facilitate engagement within and outside of class.

When incorporating academic technology, it is critical to plan for digital inclusion, meaning that students can access and use the technology in question, and that they can use it as intended in the learning process (Clarida et al. 2015).

When online learning components are designed using pedagogically sound practices, they can provide learning environments that are as effective as face-to-face classroom settings (Driscoll et al. 2012). Blended learning that is used to maximize the strengths of both online and in-person learning can increase student satisfaction and retention rates (Clarida et al. 2015).

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Steps to consider

Inclusive practices

  • Identify learner characteristics (such as abilities, attitudes, skills, and prior knowledge) to build a digital inclusion practice that extends to multiple experiences of diversity (Clarida et al. 2015)
    (Module 4: Making Success Accessible)
  • Use learning activities that incorporate substantial interaction, both among students and between students and the instructor (Driscoll et al. 2012)
    (Module 2: Integrating Peer-to-Peer Learning, and Module 5: Giving Inclusive Assessments)
  • Choose subjects and activities of interest to students and encourage students to build social networks with each other around them, supporting networked collaborative inquiry (Clarida et al. 2015)
    (Module 1: Including Diverse Representation, and Module 2: Integrating Peer-to-Peer Learning)
  • Use methodologies that build creativity, collaboration, and digital literacy (Cro et al. 2020)
    (Module 2: Integrating Peer-to-Peer Learning, Module 3: Creating a Positive Community, and Module 5: Giving Inclusive Assessments)
  • Consider how the heterogeneous nature of digital practices across the globe can be made explicit, to unite students from diverse languages and cultures around common learning goals and activities (Cro et al. 2020)
    (Module 1: Including Diverse Representation, and Module 3: Creating a Positive Community)
  • Create possibilities for student-driven decisions and public-facing work (Cro et al. 2020)
    (Module 3: Creating a Positive Community)

Digital accessibility

  • Use universal design principles to make the technology you incorporate, and the learning activities you use with it, accessible (Hamraie 2020)
    (Module 4: Making Success Accessible)
  • Incorporate asynchronous components of online learning into your course (Driscoll et al. 2012)
    (Module 4: Making Success Accessible)
  • Use free or open-access tools that students are likely to be able to use to outside of class and the university setting (Cro et al. 2020)
    (Module 4: Making Success Accessible)

Go to the IDEAL Pedagogy Canvas course to explore the learning modules referenced above.

Stanford examples and resources


Clarida, B.H., M. Bobeva, M. Hutchings, & J. Taylor (2015). “Strategies for Digital Inclusion: Towards a Pedagogy for Embracing and Sustaining Student Diversity and Engagement with Online Learning”, IAFOR Journal of Education, p86-106.

Cro, M.A., & S.K. Kearns (2020). “Developing a Process-Oriented, Inclusive Pedagogy: At the Intersection of Digital Humanities, Second Language Acquisition, and New Literacies”, Digital Humanities Quarterly, 14(1), 19384122.

Driscoll, A., K. Jicha, A.N. Hunt, L. Tichavsky, and G. Thompson (2012). “Can Online Courses Deliver In-Class Results?: A Comparison of Student Performance and Satisfaction in an Online versus a Face-to-Face Introductory Sociology Course”, Teaching Sociology, 40(4): 312–31.

Hamraie, A. (2020). “Accessible Teaching in the Time of COVID-19”, Critical Design Lab. 

Hamraie, A. (2018). “Mapping Access: Digital Humanities, Disability Justice, and Sociospatial Practice”, American Quarterly, 70(3): 455-482.

Ketchley, S.L. (2022). “Practical Pedagogy with Gale Digital Scholar Lab, Part I: Developing Your Syllabus and Learning Objectives”, The Gale Review.

Mbati, L.S. (2021). “Enhancing Student Agency as a Driver of Inclusion in Online Curriculum, Pedagogy, and Learning Content”, In Evolving Multicultural Education for Global Classrooms.