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Articles: Hardware

Anywhere Amplification

Apps help new students build social bonds and keep up on campus news.

Students and technology go hand in hand, especially when you hand out smartphones at orientation. Seton Hall University (N.J.) did just that with Nokia Lumia 900 smartphones during orientation in June. “It’s an exciting time here at Seton Hall,” says David Middleton, assistant vice president for administration and executive director of the university’s Center for Mobile Research and Innovation. “This is part of an ongoing effort we’ve been taking on for a few years,” he says, adding that students also receive a PC.

Touch screens are taking over—and people expect to see them. In the years since Apple first popularized the technology with the iPhone in 2007, it has become almost rare to meet someone who doesn’t own a touchscreen smartphone or tablet. This is becoming even truer among the college-bound and younger generation. Take, for example, the viral YouTube video showing a toddler who could easily operate an iPad, but seemed perplexed when she touched the pages of a magazine and nothing happened.

The goal of being more energy efficient is not just fashionable. It’s sensible. There are cost savings to be realized from energy efficiency solutions. The fourth annual CDW-G Energy Efficient IT Report shows that savings are being realized by higher ed institutions that have implemented solutions, with 71 percent of surveyed schools reporting having reduced their data center energy costs by 1 percent or more. The report is based on a survey of 760 IT professionals from several sectors, including higher ed. 

 Affordable Android

The ZTE Optik 3G Android tablet from Sprint is an e-reader, media player, and portable computing device. The 7-inch touchscreen display has a WXGA 1280x800 resolution and pinch-to-zoom technology and operates on the Android 3.2 Honeycomb system with a 1.2GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor. The 7.6 inches tall, 4.7 inches wide tablet, weighing less than 1 pound, costs as low as $99.99.

Computer platforms are broadening on campus as colleges and universities invite students to use a variety of tablets, laptops, and desktops in mobile and traditional learning environments. Device choices expand as the emphasis is on apps over hardware.

Big Bend Community College (Wash.)



  • Using: Mediasite by Sonic Foundry


  • Started using lecture capture: 2007


  • Classes: Pre-college level math and English

California Community Colleges



  • Using: Blackboard Collaborate


  • Started using lecture capture: 2002 (upgrades in 2005 and 2012)


  • Classes: Basic skills (including ESL,tutoring, and writing labs)

Students enrolled in remedial courses at Holmes Community College seem to be sticking it out in those courses, and the use of lecture capture may well be a big factor in why. Photo: Courtney Lange / Holmes Community College Staff Writer/Photographer

Boosting success for students in remedial education is crucial, particularly given the readiness gap seen at some community colleges. A recent report from McGraw-Hill Higher Education showed that despite receiving a high school diploma, at least 75 percent of first-year students at community colleges aren’t college-ready. And the number of students dropping out during their first year of college continues to rise. This can be attributed to a number of factors, including financial difficulties.

Few students—traditional or nontraditional—complete their work within the 9-5 work day. Rather, libraries and dorm rooms are bustling late into the night with students burning the midnight oil. But, according to findings from the 2012 ACUTA (The Association for Information Communications Technology Professionals in Higher Education) ResNet Survey, only 9 percent of colleges and universities offer 24/7 network support.

Apps for Education

If you were to travel 10 years into the future and walk onto a college campus, what would you expect digital signage to look like? I’m not sure what it will look like, but what I do know is that my two young sons will want to interact with it. Steve Jobs left me a legacy of listening to endless fire truck videos; clips of animated cars, trucks, and trains speaking in German, Dutch, and Japanese; and video updates of the latest in dancing robots (“bebots,” as my 18-month-old calls them).

iPad

On January 19, Apple held a much-hyped education event at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City where the company revealed its move into the textbook distribution market with the release of the iBooks 2 and iBooks Author apps.

Notable for its higher ed implications, iBooks Author is available as a free download from the Mac App Store and lets anyone with a Mac create iBooks textbooks and publish them to Apple’s iBookstore. Education technology experts weigh in on how this could change how professors disseminate information.

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