HIPS x Digital Transformation

K.Park/ February 19, 2022/ 2 comments


What should High Impact Practices with Technology look like in higher education?


The concept of High Impact Practices also known as HIPS in higher education is still new to me. I first heard about them when one of my colleagues brought up how our area could support them, but even then, the support HIPS where I work haven’t directly been part of the work my team does.  So, what are HIPS and why am I exploring them now?

As Kuh (2008) wrote, HIPS are practices that enhance student engagement and increase student success. These practices are first-year seminars and experiences, collaborative assignments and projects, undergraduate research, diversity/global learning, service learning/community-based learning, common intellectual experiences, learning communities, writing-intensive courses, internships, and capstone courses and projects. 

Integrating HIPS and Technology

If you’ve read some of my previous posts, you’ve heard me talk about Digital Transformation, it’s an important topic in higher education as at its core, it seeks to transform how we practice and “do what we do,” so that higher education institutions can continue to stay relevant to younger generations, as well as become institutions that are nimble like businesses. That said, what I want to explore is how to integrate this digital transformation with HIPS.   

I’ve probably referenced this quote elsewhere on my blog, I know I’ve used it at work many times: “One cannot first choose a pedagogy and then a technology; pedagogy is the thoughtful combination of methods, technologies, social and physical designs and on-the-fly interactions to produce learning environments, student experiences, activities, outcomes or whatever your preferred way is of thinking about what we do in education. All elements inevitably shape the ways in which the other elements are used and experienced.

(Fawns, 2020)”

Three Ideas

The quote above influences how I think about technology not just in the classroom, but across campus and it leads me to three “big” ideas that I think provide a starting place.

First, I think university administrators should sit down with their EdTech and IT departments (if they’re separate) to discuss what their vision for the student experience could and should look like. This helps departments be “in the know” can help shape some of the decisions they make to support campus. In my experience, these areas haven’t usually been part of the conversations that steer what the student experience is like and so the technologies selected tend to be more responsive than preemptive.

Secondly, I think would be helpful is to have administrators create goals within each HIP that they want to use in their program that address and integrate some aspect of digital transformation.  That way, as programs and instructors adopt various HIPS, the use of technology and experience that students will have, can be addressed from the beginning, and not added later as an afterthought.

Thirdly, the EdTech and IT offices should use tools like the Rubric-for-eLearning-Tool-Evaluation provided by Western University or the Selecting Technology for Learning (SECTIONS Framework), to evaluate tools, to make sure they’re aligned with university goals.  If both areas collaborate and work together to choose technologies, then they can also better partner to provide ongoing support and resources for the entire community.


In Reimagining the Role of Technology in Higher Education, the US Dept of Education writes: “for any technology solution to have a transformative impact on student learning and success, it must have as its foundation the specific goals, needs, and interests of the students themselves.”

Along those lines, I think if colleges and universities want to create a more transformative experience with technology, we need to look at technology as more than just the vehicle to deliver the experience and set the EdTech and IT offices up so they can preemptively design and integrate solutions that support all members of the community.


Kuh, G. D. (2008). Excerpt from high-impact educational practices: What they are, who has access to them, and why they matter. Association of American Colleges and Universities14(3), 28-29.

Fawns, T. 2020. Pedagogy and technology from a postdigital perspective. https://www.teaching-matters-blog.ed.ac.uk/pedagogy-and-technology-from-a-postdigital-perspective/

Office of Educational Technology. 2017. Reimagining the role of technology in higher education: A supplement to the national education technology plan. p 9. Retrieved from https://tech.ed.gov/files/2017/01/Higher-Ed-NETP.pdf

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  1. Thank you for introducing the concept of HIPS – fascinating. Right off the bat, you recommended that administrators should sit down with their EdTech and IT departments to discuss what their vision for the student experience could and should look like. This sounds like the right thing to do but seems to be what’s missing in most institutions. I agree with you that integrating HIPS with technology should not be done in silos but rather treated as a collaborative effort between administration and IT. I think it might also be powerful to rope in the academic faculty who will be delivering the learning experience into the conversation.

  2. You’ve pointed out one of the biggest challenges in higher education which ultimately affects student experience for better and for worse: interdepartmental collaboration (or lack thereof). It’s so easy for higher education staff and faculty to work in silos. It sees like it should be obvious that an Ed Tech and IT department would sit down together to make sure they’re operating on a shared vision of student experience….and yet….

    I wonder if it would also be valuable to highlight examples that are already happening in-house with instructors using HIPS, either with or without the meaningful use of technology. Examples of instructors already using technology can help shape that shared vision for the wider campus, and the other examples can become authentic work-based projects to tackle in a meaningful PD endeavor.

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