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Articles: Enterprise

In the past few years, many universities have begun to explore a concept frequently and successfully implemented in the corporate world, but previously rare in higher education: shared services. The term “shared services” refers to a streamlining process where administrative tasks or technology management services that regularly occurred across several departments in the organization are placed under the authority of one unit.

As long as there are assignments for college students to research and write, it’s likely there will be copiers and printers to help. Good news for paper and copier companies, for sure, but bad news for institutions such as expansive Houston Community College, at least until recently. HCC’s six colleges and 27 sites allow it to educate more than 70,000 students a semester, but without centralized print and copy management solutions, efficiency lagged severely.

Until the summer of 2013, the primary sources of technology support services at Fairfield University in Connecticut were the reference librarians and circulation staff at the DiMenna-Nyselius Library—not the technology help desk. Questions about software, using campus printers or accessing the university’s wireless network were most commonly answered by the library professionals who were within earshot.

The setting was big, the company was good and the technology talk was buzzing at this year’s UBTech Conference, held June 16 to 18 at The Mirage Las Vegas.

And based on the feedback from our 1,273 attendees, the “Technology Changes Everything” tagline will be put into practice as administrators and educators from the more than 500 institutions represented at the event share information and propose projects and programs back on their own campuses.

Click to enlarge: UBTech 2014 racked up big numbers in attendees and activities. (Graphic: Rebecca Eller)

The accompanying infographic provides some of the key numbers for UBTech 2014, which took place in June at the Mirage in Las Vegas.

Click to enlarge the graphic to find stats for number of attendees, number of sessions and cups of coffee consumed -- and more. And don't forget to share our graphic on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest. We all know a captivating image boosts the power of our posts. 

The average college student now spends about $1,200 per year on course materials. (Click to enlarge)

Textbook publishing has long been seen as an impenetrable business, with five major players controlling most of the nearly $14 billion industry. But in recent years, the shift to digital and open-access content has led to a proliferation of free and low-cost alternatives.

Meanwhile, spiraling costs, massive student debt, changing consumer demands and public as well as legislative efforts have pushed the industry toward a true disruption that is now widely considered to be inevitable.

Four major university systems will share online courses, analytics and learning-management software through a cloud-based digital education platform called Unizin, portions of which launched in July.

Developed by Indiana University, Colorado State University, the University of Florida and the University of Michigan, Unizin will house everything from homework videos to flipped classroom content to distance learning courses—plus all the data that’s generated.

Ben Nelson, CEO of the Minerva Project, says he has created "the most selective undergraduate class in the history of American higher education.”

What if you could create a new kind of university? What would it be like?

For Ben Nelson, CEO of the Minerva Project, it would combine a redefined student body, a reinvented curriculum, rigorous academic standards, cutting-edge technology and an immersive global experience. Nelson launched Minerva in 2011 to provide an Ivy League-like education at a fraction of the cost.

When mapping out how wayfinding should be incorporated into digital signage on campus, ease of use for students and visitors should be the top concern. “The more information that can be presented visually, rather than textually, the more easily information can be digested in terms of wayfinding,” says Lyle Bunn, a digital signage expert based outside Toronto.

When Ohio State students requested a campus life mobile app, Steve Fischer, director of web and mobile apps (standing, left) and his team collaborated on the project that made it happen.

In today’s higher ed world, no department can work in a vacuum, least of all IT. From understanding the business plan to knowing how a web page or application will be used and by whom before it is designed and built, the days of CIOs and their teams working independently are gone.

IT administrators are spending more time than ever before collaborating with other departments to ensure there is a clear understanding of a project’s mission and to generate a more successful outcome.

Colleges and universities must consider students' privacy and other issues when lectures are recorded.

While the benefits of lecture capture and the flipped classroom model have caught widespread attention in higher ed, it is crucial to note its risks—particularly in the area of privacy and copyright violations.

The President’s Task Force  Committee at Salisbury University is an example of how multiple  departments can work with IT. On  the committee is Simeon Ananou (seated, with laptop), as well as his colleagues from the provost’s office, student affairs, registrar, financial aid, general counsel, HR, web  communications and two academic departments.

Within the next few years, as the ROI of collaboration becomes increasingly known, expect cross-departmental teamwork to be integral to the way all IT projects are handled, says Kamalika Sandell, associate CIO of American University. “There will be fewer boundaries in IT, and that will allow input to happen fluidly throughout the regular course of doing business,” she notes.

Simeon Ananou, CIO of Salisbury University in Maryland, sees a future higher ed model where IT and curriculum are integrated.

Karine Joly is the web editor behind www., a blog about higher ed web marketing, public relations, and technologies.

It’s a fact: Responsive websites solve the challenge created by a world of multiple connected devices—from the latest smartphones to the newest tablets and the largest screens of desktop computers or TVs.

Online labs require fewer instructors, and can even be taught by teacher assistants. (Photo: eScience Labs)

Budget crunches and crowded courses are two reasons online science labs are becoming more popular in higher ed. Some online labs require little or no equipment, and take up no space on campus.

Students learning to investigate aircraft accidents can sift through the debris of simulated crashes on eight acres of land at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s campus in Prescott, Ariz.

Last month, the institution, which has 150 locations around the world, launched a virtual version of the lab. While not meant to replace the real-life lab, it may offer remote students a more extensive experience of simulated accidents, its designers say.