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Articles: Teaching & Learning

Institutions in nine states are experimenting with using papers and coursework—instead of tests—to judge whether students are learning skills employers need.

University representatives from these states will develop standards for judging students’ critical thinking, problem solving, intercultural competence and more. These skills were determined to be what employees most value in graduates, says Carol Geary Schneider, president of the Association of American Colleges and Universities.

Breaking Down “Breaking Bad”

University at Buffalo

Taught by SUNY Distinguished Professor and James Agee Professor of American Culture Bruce Jackson, also a filmmaker who served, in 1966, as a senior consultant on President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Crime Commission

As more colleges and universities offer credit for MOOCs, one problem that has cropped up is how to authenticate the results of student assessments conducted online.

A handful of companies have developed a solution: online proctoring. Using a webcam to monitor the students as they take tests, online proctors can peer into students’ living rooms, kitchens or back patios, watching their computer screens and observing their eye movements to ensure they are not looking at notes in a closed-book exam.

The University of Central Florida is the second-largest university in the U.S., with 12 campuses serving 60,000 students. Keystone College, on the other hand, a small, private, liberal arts college in Pennsylvania, is on the other end of the spectrum, with just 2,000 students. Both institutions transitioned to a new learning management system—UCF to Canvas (by Instructure), and Keystone to Moodlerooms. Here, Thomas Cavanagh, associate VP, distributed learning at UCF, and Justin Kraky, educational technologist at Keystone College, talk about the similarities and differences in their migration experiences.

Inmates in a study session at the Woodbourne Correctional Facility, a medium-security facility outside Ellenville, N.Y.

Bard College doesn’t judge the success of its prison initiative by the number of students who stay out of jail. Recidivism is an extremely low bar, says Executive Director Max Kenner. “We judge by how many people are becoming middle-class taxpayers, how many people are involved in deeply meaningful ways in their communities. We think by those measures we are thriving.”

John Fragola (left) and Peter Grady use iPads to monitor the heat inside Dana English Hall on the Mount Carmel campus at Quinnipiac University. Both are licensed HVAC mechanics in the facilities department.

Members of the facilities crew at Quinnipiac University were spending a lot of time traveling back to their shop during the workday.

This situation, of course, was not unique to Quinnipiac, but department officials at the school set out to eliminate the trips workers had to make to retrieve new work orders, find information about equipment in manuals or look up floor plans. The central Connecticut institution has a 212-acre main campus, and two branches that are a half-mile and about five miles away.

It’s not enough today to put together a presentation and talk through the slides. Students have short attention spans and need to be fully engaged with the course material. In this session, Brian Klaas, web systems designer for the Center for Teaching and Learning with Technology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, explains how to create a lively, memorable presentation or online class lecture using the basic structure of a great screenplay. Here are his eight recommendations.

Fourteen years ago, as a Victor E. Cameron professor of electrical and computer engineering at Rice University in Houston, Richard G. Baraniuk was frustrated that he couldn’t find the ideal book for his class. He knew there were tens of dozens of other professors out there with the same concern, so rather than write a book to suit his own needs, in 1999, he solved a wider audience’s needs by founding Connexions, a platform for making high-quality educational content available for free on the web and at a very low cost in print.

Online lectures, classroom capture, MOOCs, e-books and other digital content mean that questions about intellectual property rights are on the rise. Kevin Smith, director of copyright and scholarly communication at Duke University, will help guide attendees through the legal landscape in his UBTech featured session “Yours, Mine or Ours? Intellectual Property in a Digital Age.”

As students rely more on tablets and smartphones to stay connected, universities are under pressure to make student services easily accessible from mobile devices. “In my experience, students arrive on campus expecting the university to be mobile-ready,” says Karl Horvath, CIO at Gwynedd Mercy University, a 2,600-student school in Montgomery County, Pa. “Gwynedd Mercy is surrounded by 80 other schools, and we are all competing in the same student market. Meeting mobile expectations is a key tool for recruiting and retaining students.”

Certain best practices have been defined by leaders of highly successful tech repair centers.

Part of keeping a campus computer repair center running smoothly is staying aware of what problems are likely to disrupt its operations. Certain best practices have been defined by leaders of highly successful centers; here are seven elements for operating an efficient campus repair center.

Part-time students and their needs need not get lost when continuing education gets decentralized. Fairfield U reaches out to its part-timers, many of whom have young children, with events such as the Halloween-themed “Night at the Museum,” held this fall on campus at the Bellarmine Art Museum.

With funding cuts, falling enrollments and increased competition from MOOCs and other low-cost online programs, higher education has been under enormous pressure in recent years. But pressure often leads to positive change, and many schools are looking at continuing education as an ideal area for that change.

Swarthmore College President Rebecca Chopp says the liberal arts best help students 'learn the tools of learning itself.'

While details of President Obama’s college affordability proposals are not fully known, what is clear is that higher education is going under the microscope to prove its value. Add to that a growing chorus of pundits who believe that a liberal arts education is a waste of time and a relic of the past. But two college presidents argue in a new book that a liberal arts education is, in fact, crucial to not just boosting the economy but to solving many of the world’s problems.

Texas Tech faculty can escape to a quiet recording studio with good lighting and acoustics, as well as tech support just steps away, when they need to record lessons for distance learning or a flipped classroom model.

For an increasing number of faculty members, class prep has gone high tech. It’s not about simply reviewing notes and planning course exercises. It also involves stepping in front of a video camera. Whether it’s for distance learning programs or flipped classrooms, colleges and universities now need faculty who are able and willing to teach on camera.

There are options beyond operating a university-owned computer repair center. Outside repair companies operating on campuses can save universities money in technician salaries and center administration costs.

Best Buy’s Geek Squad, for example, has run centers on campuses. And the regional tech repair company that operates Harvard’s campus repair center is Micros Northeast.