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Articles: Hardware

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.

Karine Joly says digital content is now the currency for search, social networking and even advertising.

What will 2014 bring to the digital field in higher ed? That’s the million dollar question at the start of this new year. Unfortunately, charting a precise course for success over the next 12 months isn’t possible.

When everything changes so quickly, we can only try to identify what looks like the best route to our destination. To help you with the exercise, let’s see what developments are leading the way.

Employing an assessment and relocation strategy consolidated the  number of locations with computers and printers on campus, but easier  access to the technology has increased usage.

Despite having 4,500 computers and dozens of printers deployed campuswide at Boise State University in Idaho, students had to wait in line to print out assignments and term papers during busy times.

CIO Max Davis-Johnson arrived in 2010, and officials began taking a closer look at how technology was being used, and where. Davis-Johnson uses the phrase “keeping score” to describe this process of tracking technology usage to ensure that every available asset is being productive for the university.

At RIT, barcodes adorn all tech equipment, so when the internal auditing group conducts an asset audit, additional equipment beyond what is already tracked is rarely discovered by the team.

Tracking IT assets across a higher ed institution is tricky business. Depending on the college or university, it may be done by an internal audit group or IT, or a combination of both.

IT asset audits are important from a risk management perspective because they help schools track compliance with software licensing agreements, as well as state and federal requirements, and help them be more efficient.

Five years ago, there were no universities offering an undergraduate major in robotics. Today, “robotics is a high-growth area,” says Mike Gennert, the director of the Robotics Engineering Program at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), a 5,700-student university in Massachusetts.

“Nationally, we are seeing a growing number of undergraduate majors, and the number of grad programs has doubled or tripled in the last few years,” he says.

The field of robotics is expanding as the technology becomes more commercially viable.

For years, educators have recognized that children playing with LEGOs exhibit a natural talent in problem-solving and creativity. Because engineering students often have extensive experience with LEGOs, big-name universities, including Carnegie Mellon, Arizona State, University of Nevada-Reno, and Texas A&M are eager to work LEGO into their undergraduate curriculum to engage and retain students.

Although universities are under intense pressure to keep up with tech trends, being an early adopter is not always the best option. The launch of Windows Vista is a good example. In 2006, many higher ed institutions jumped on the new operating system when it came out, only to find it loaded with security issues and bugs.

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.”

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.

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