You are here

Articles: Internet

What is the most important lesson learned after a responsive website project?

It doesn’t have to do with coding tricks. It does have to do with content.

“We knew what we were getting ourselves into, but we’ve seen how much easier it is to develop a responsive website from the ground-up,” says Carolyn Wilson, campus webmaster at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

Have you noticed how nearly everybody has been weighing in on whether or not higher ed should embrace responsive websites? Web developers and designers working in universities, of course, but also marketers, communicators, and college magazine editors have debated, at conferences or on Twitter, the pros and cons of the responsive web design approach.

Many institutions with a single traditional brick and mortar campus are diversifying the methods for delivering their programs by going online, developing hybrid courses, and even establishing centers at locations off-campus. In his UBTech featured session, “Using Multiple Delivery Methods to Reduce the Cost of Higher Education,” Alan Walker, former president of Upper Iowa University, will discuss the challenges and cost benefits of strategic diversification.

It’s no secret that universities across the nation are facing more challenges than ever before. Shrinking budgets are contrasted with higher costs and aging facilities. The government is getting more involved from a regulatory standpoint while decreasing its funding support for education. Demand is up, enrollments are all over the map and across the board, and graduation rates are down. It’s a roller coaster of peaks and valleys that leaves schools fighting for ways to cope, retain students, and help them graduate on time.

Whether you think they are hype or the next step in the evolution of learning, there’s no question that MOOCs have taken the education world by storm.

Platforms such as Coursera, edX, and UniversityNow offer free courses online to students anywhere, and are continuing to grow. Coursera now has more than 60 partners here and abroad, including École Polytechnique in France, the National University of Singapore, the Chinese University of Hong Kong and National Autonomous University of Mexico.

It’s one of modern cinema’s most familiar and resonant moments: the scene in Good Will Hunting where Matt Damon’s character humiliates a Harvard student, contending that the Ivy Leaguer blew $150,000 to learn less than Will could learn with a library card.

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have captured the headlines in higher education in the past year. These new platforms were developed to enable both open access and large scale participation in online courses. Many top tier universities are joining the MOOCs bandwagon, afraid of missing an important piece of the Web-based phenomenon. It is our goal as educators to assess whether or not they can become a best practice in online learning.

Tim Goral

Earlier this year work began on a document that, at the very least, formalizes expectations and minimum standards for schools and students venturing into online learning. With the growth of MOOCs and distance learning, we are entering a time when these alternate forms of learning will supplement and in some cases supplant traditional education models. Universities recognize that they need to find ways to provide cost-effective, quality education to an expanding base, even as their own funding gets slashed.

Cloud computing is gaining traction as mainstream for many applications in the education and research industries. Commercial enterprises have turned to the “cloud” for years to gain on-demand access to a shared pool of computing resources. Now, with organizations realizing compelling advantages in cost, speed, and efficiency, cloud computing is expanding to meet the needs of a diverse range of industries—and higher education is among the fields taking the plunge in certain application areas.

Tony Bates

Tony Bates is the author of 11 books in the field of online learning and distance education. In addition to his most recent title, Managing Technology in Higher Education: Strategies for Transforming Teaching and Learning (Jossey-Bass/John Wiley & Co. 2011), Bates moderates a widely read blog about online learning and distance education resources at Popular with audiences at education conferences around the world, Bates will be a featured speaker at UBTech 2013 in Orlando.

Rechargeable Comfort

Bretford’s MOTIV High-Back Sofa was designed to provide a semiprivate and comfortable space for students and others on campus who are resting or working, alone or in groups. The MOTIV High-Back Sofa has an optional power module with an AC outlet and USB charger, allowing users to charge laptops, tablets, and other mobile devices.

Will residential liberal arts colleges follow the path of the wristwatch? I sure hope so. With all of the talk about MOOCs, online instruction, and game-based learning models, many of us working at residential liberal arts colleges are uncertain about our future. The reports are scaring us into conversations about fundamentally restructuring—perhaps even abandoning what we do and how we do it.

College and university networks present opportunities to manage devices remotely, often automatically. Automating device management via the network saves students, faculty, and staff time and allows institutions to direct resources and efforts to the core business of higher education: learning.

Build Your Own Display

Christie MicroTiles

Connecticut Distance Learning Consortium girl on computer

As distance learning programs are developed and then refined, there are many options for national, regional, and statewide distance education consortia that the institutions can, and often do, join. The consortia help in sharing resources and tips to help each other with distance learning efforts.

Organizations like the American Distance Education Consortium, National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education (NITLE), and Sloan Consortium offer member schools access to networking, resources, conferences, and learning opportunities.