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Articles: Teaching & Learning

ASU often takes advantage of its size and substantial budget to pilot and adopt new technological solutions that may be out of reach for other schools. “We are always one of the first schools to attempt to do new things at scale,” says CIO Gordon Wishon. “Over the years, we have been fairly aggressive in challenging some of the long-held assumptions about what sort of technologies can be delivered in the university setting.”

Panopto's lecture capture platform, like many others, includes captions for students who are deaf or hard of hearing.

The technological revolution sweeping higher education may not be carrying all students with it equally. MOOCs, lecture capture, and other digital platforms are being designed with varying degrees of accessibility for students with mobility restrictions, hearing and visual impairments, and learning disabilities.

The University of Arkansas at Fayetteville (UA) is using video conferencing comprehensively to improve learning and control operational costs. Originally used for occasional standard definition applications, we are employing high definition for everything from the classroom to committee work. We’ll soon enable video conferencing on students’ mobile devices, to make distance learning portable as well.

Gary Nickerson, IT Director, Oklahoma Baptist University

A state-of-the-art emergency alert system that can reliably reach the entire student body is a must for modern-day universities. “It’s really imperative,” says Gary Nickerson, IT director at Oklahoma Baptist University, a 2,000 student school in Shawnee, Oklahoma. In implementing these alerts systems, university IT directors like Nickerson face an important choice: they can develop their own product or purchase a system from a vendor.

Jim Hall, IT Director, University of Minnesota, Morris

To fully engage students in on-campus life, in 2012, Morris’ IT director Jim Hall decided to develop an app that alerts students to the university’s events and on-campus programming. “The thing that helped us was to think like a student,” explains Hall. “We realized this generation doesn’t want to look for information, so we created a mobile app to bring the information directly to students’ phones.

“If you build it, they probably won’t come.” That’s Sara Wilson’s take on the launch of the typical campus financial literacy program. As financial literacy project manager at USA Funds, she knows firsthand how many students participate and what they think later as they look back.

While numerous post-graduation surveys by the company show students regret not learning more about personal finance while they were in school, they also tend not to access financial literacy information when it’s offered on a completely voluntary basis, Wilson says.

Open any newspaper these days and you’ll see variations on the same critiques of higher education we’ve heard for years: spiraling costs, unequal access, ineffective teaching, and so on. And you’ll hear politicians demand greater accountability, while they threaten greater funding cuts. Yet little ever changes.

Interdisciplinary courses and programs in peacebuilding have existed mainly at four-year institutions and graduate schools. But the offerings are a slow, but growing trend at community colleges.

Andy Murray’s Wimbledon victory set the record for the most related tweets in the UK—placing his Centre Court championship in the ranks of President Obama’s election night speech, the Pope’s inauguration, and—go figure—the Spice Girls reunion at the Olympics.

Now, the Campus Insiders website is using this fascination with social media to lure readers to sports highlights and analysis. It has 37,000 likes on Facebook and 2,400 Twitter followers.

Judith Shapiro, former president and professor of anthropology at Barnard College in New York City from 1994 to 2008.

Judith Shapiro, former president and professor of anthropology at Barnard College in New York City from 1994 to 2008, had been “happily retired” before assuming the leadership role at the Teagle Foundation in July. The New York-based foundation’s grant-making is focused on improving undergraduate student learning in the arts and sciences.

The team that first explored bringing a shared services model to the University of Michigan couldn’t help but notice some vast inefficiencies when it broke down the $325 million being spent on IT. Excluding the university’s massive health system, the analysis revealed multiple networks, data centers, and server closets, with 35 different email systems and more than 150 organizations maintaining computers for faculty and staff.

The State University of New York (SUNY) may have the most talked about shared services program in the nation. As part of an effort to try to reduce administrative costs and funnel the savings toward academics and student services, the system’s administration has been working to adopt a shared service model across its 64 campuses. That model has even included shared presidents.

Working in Groups
Vaddio’s GroupSTATION, designed for mid-to large-size meeting spaces, allows up to 20 people to share a PowerPoint presentation, stream a training video from YouTube, or collaborate with remote participants. Users can connect a laptop or tablet directly into GroupSTATION, which consists of two main components: a table-based MicPOD dock, and a wall-mounted sound bar that incorporates an HD camera in its center. The MicPOD Dock functions as a microphone, speakerphone, and user interface.

At the end of this spring’s TV season, CBS’s “Big Bang Theory” was the highest rated sitcom. Focused on the lives of two physicists, an aerospace engineer, a neuroscientist, and a waitress, the success of this pop culture comedy gives us a creative perspective on the serious contributions engineering and math majors make to our petroleum industry—and to fueling energy production sustainability.

Members of Akron's men's and women's basketball teams received iPads to keep them connected to classes while traveling.

With days spent on buses and planes, it’s easy for student athletes to fall behind in class. That’s why The University of Akron (Ohio) is giving them iPads.

Fully funded by donors, the program was piloted last year, with all members of the men’s and women’s basketball teams receiving tablets at a cost of $500 each. Along with improving academic performance, the tablets are meant to make it easier for coaches to communicate with players.