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Articles: Teaching & Learning

Officials at Manchester Community College and across the state are working to increase the number of graduates in STEM fields such as biology.

Students, residents, and employers of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) field graduates in New Hampshire will be hearing a whole lot more about these areas of study in coming years. Representatives from the University System of New Hampshire and the Community College System of New Hampshire signed a letter of commitment last month that lays out steps to meet a big goal: increase STEM-educated graduates by 50 percent by 2020, and then double that number by 2025. Currently, the two systems graduate about 1,120 students in these areas.

Plagiarism is a widespread problem, and with anytime, anywhere internet access, it only seems to get worse. As part of a study published last summer by The Pew Research Center and the Chronicle of Higher Education, more than half of 1,055 college presidents surveyed said they had seen a rise in plagiarism in the last 10 years. (Just 2 percent thought that it had decreased.)

Harvard President Drew Faust (left) and MIT President Susan Hockfield announce edX.

At the beginning of the 21st century, MIT began a bold, pioneering experiment in bringing higher learning to the masses. Originally intended for students traveling abroad to keep up with their studies, the OpenCourseWare Project enabled anyone to access the OCW site and read course materials from more than 2,000 MIT classes. While there was no interaction with faculty and no grades or credit given for doing any of the work, it opened the door to a variety of possibilities for online learning.

What kinds of collaboration tools are being used by higher ed administrators for more efficient execution of projects these days? Here are a few examples:

Students, staff, faculty, and alumni are frequently in need of support for special projects, curriculum collaboration, and technology. Helpdesk solutions for IT administrators have been widely adopted among larger institutions to streamline IT support. But, with tight budgets, there’s a need for a streamlined, collaborative workflow that allows staff, support specialists, department heads, administrators, and professors alike to be more productive, in a shorter period of time and with less staff.

As college acceptance letters began popping up in mailboxes across the country this year, incoming students were left once again with the daunting task of choosing the right school. While cost has always been a consideration, more students than ever before are now considering it as a key factor—not only in terms of which school to attend, but whether they go to college at all.

Strategic Learning Alternative Techniques (SALT) Center at the University of Arizona:

A dozen strategic learning specialists are assigned to individual students, whom they meet with weekly and coach on everything from time management to self-advocacy. SALT students get help figuring out how and to whom to disclose their learning disability, and how to approach professors and talk to them. Research has shown that students with learning disabilities need to develop self-determination skills. Students begin work on self-advocacy right away.

The goal of being more energy efficient is not just fashionable. It’s sensible. There are cost savings to be realized from energy efficiency solutions. The fourth annual CDW-G Energy Efficient IT Report shows that savings are being realized by higher ed institutions that have implemented solutions, with 71 percent of surveyed schools reporting having reduced their data center energy costs by 1 percent or more. The report is based on a survey of 760 IT professionals from several sectors, including higher ed. 

 Affordable Android

The ZTE Optik 3G Android tablet from Sprint is an e-reader, media player, and portable computing device. The 7-inch touchscreen display has a WXGA 1280x800 resolution and pinch-to-zoom technology and operates on the Android 3.2 Honeycomb system with a 1.2GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor. The 7.6 inches tall, 4.7 inches wide tablet, weighing less than 1 pound, costs as low as $99.99.

Computer platforms are broadening on campus as colleges and universities invite students to use a variety of tablets, laptops, and desktops in mobile and traditional learning environments. Device choices expand as the emphasis is on apps over hardware.

Students who learn differently will be the focus of two events at UBTech 2012, June 11 to 13 in Las Vegas. Temple Grandin, autism advocate and professor of animal sciences at Colorado State University, will speak on education, technology, and how we relate to the world around us in the opening keynote. In a later session, Dana Reinecke, an assistant professor and department chair in the Center for Applied Behavior Analysis at The Sage Colleges (N.Y.), will present on using technology to reach college students with special needs.

Student Caitlin Smith of Adelphi U gets a helping hand from Susan Spencer Farinacci, executive director of the Learning Disabilities Program there.

At first glance, the sprawling University of Arizona and University of Connecticut campuses might not have much in common with Adelphi University and Curry College, smaller private institutions in the suburbs of New York City and Boston, respectively. But all of these schools have built robust programs for undergraduates with learning disabilities (LD), distinguishing themselves in the process.

They’re among an expanding number of institutions working closely with students who decades ago might have struggled to graduate—or not made it to college at all.

Recently, McGraw-Hill Higher Education issued a white paper, “The Tipping Point in Development Education” stating that adaptive learning technology in higher education can bridge remedial education gaps.

The report noted that technology-enabled developmental education programs that are designed specifically for underprepared students entering or returning to college can improve educational and other outcomes. These benefits can include increased retention and completion rates, a more accelerated and efficient process for students bound for college, and greater affordability.