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Articles: Hardware

Built in high-traffic areas around campus, The Zones at Boise State University have walk-up help desks where students can get their technology questions answered.

From stand-alone help desks to spaces in bookstores and other high-traffic areas, technology services are becoming more visible on college campuses. Many colleges and universities have modeled new help desks after the Genius Bar in Apple Stores.

UB Top Products

University Business is proud to announce this year’s Readers’ Choice Top Products. College and university leaders from across the country have nominated the products they are using to operate their institutions more efficiently and enhance students’ experiences.

From the professor’s podium, all the technology throughout the room can easily be switched back and forth for use.

College and university instructors across the country are incorporating technology into their classes with little effort. As classroom control systems have advanced, they’ve also become more user-friendly, making a wider variety of teaching methods possible.

Cutting-edge higher education institutions across the country are leveraging AV and IT technology to advance the learning experience on their campuses. Five of these institutions were honored at the 2014 AMX Innovation Awards, which were presented this past June at UBTech, higher ed’s leading national technology and leadership conference.

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.

A bookstore renovation gave officials the chance to reimagine how  technical support is provided to students and make changes for the better.

Tech support is rarely fun—even, apparently, if it’s a lot closer than an overseas call center. Despite 24/7 help desk availability and in-person technical consulting, Computing Services and Systems Development (CSSD) staff at the University of Pittsburgh believed their services were being underutilized by the main campus’ 26,000-plus students.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Pat Shoknecht, CIO, Rollins College

Students at Arkansas' Hendrix College attend a weekly theater class at Rollins College, nearly a thousand miles away in Florida, without leaving their campus. It's part of the Associated Colleges of the South's New Paradigm Initiative that uses remote video conferencing to pool teaching resources. Now students at any of the 16 ACS member campuses can take advantage of faculty expertise at another member school.

Despite the hype surrounding the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend, the reality is that BYOD has been around on college campuses for nearly a decade. Spurred by tech-savvy students who demanded internet access to their personal devices, forward-thinking administrations recognized early on that providing network access and resources to these students could improve the educational experience, while aiding recruiting efforts.

The editors of University Business are proud to announce this year’s Readers’ Choice Top Products. Campus leaders from across the country have seized the unique opportunity to nominate the products they are using to operate their institutions more efficiently and enhance students’ experiences.