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Articles: Hardware

Mainstream colleges and universities could benefit from increased use of assistive technologies for learning, but there are some educators who feel that allowing students to use assistive technology is like cheating.

As someone who works at a college where these learning tools are used every day in every class, I’d like to clear up this major misconception. These tools simply facilitate learning, and all of us, different and “normal” learners alike, should understand what the tools can do for us.

Last month, Professional Media Group, owners and producers of the EduComm conference, announced a new name for the conference’s 2012 incarnation: UBTech.

When it began in 2003, EduComm’s focus was on the convergence of AV and IT in higher education. But as the years went by, EduComm sessions increasingly reflected the disciplines and topics covered in University Business magazine and its companion web seminar series.

A Prospective student attending an open house or career fair, who has just finished the LSAT, or even who has some time on a train commute can apply to Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School on the spot—via smartphone or tablet. Officials there say it’s the first law school in the country facilitating the application process through the use of portable devices.

Henry Ford brought efficiency to the forefront of American business with his assembly line, which introduced automobiles to the masses. “The man who will use his skill and constructive imagination to see how much he can give for a dollar, instead of how little he can give for a dollar, is bound to succeed,” he once said. This same mentality has allowed this fall’s Models of Efficiency honorees to improve services provided by their departments, all without spending a fortune—and often while saving a bundle.

Like many institutions, Murray State University (Ky.) paid a vendor to back up its data regularly and store it off-site for retrieval in case a disaster struck campus and wiped out hard drives and servers. But university administrators found the service lacking for a variety of reasons: It was pricey in lean times, recovering information was too lengthy a process, and effective testing was practically nonexistent.

Few among us enjoy the prospect of assessment, I think. It can feel like a lonely and difficult endeavor. Some of us shy away after catching a glimpse of an inhospitable landscape pockmarked with huge data craters, thinking “I simply have too much work to do to get dragged into that!”
Others navigate across the shifting sands and craggy outcrops of data collection and analysis with great trepidation. What if I get it wrong? Will I even know if I get it wrong? Most of us are compelled to assess at some level and just try to get through it as quickly as possible. Whew! Now back to my real work.

Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada

The word “class” really doesn’t do justice to what medical students attend in the newly renovated lecture theatre at Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada.

“It’s a production, which is so much better,” said Ed Hipditch, manager of classroom technologies with Memorial University’s Distance Education, Learning and Teaching Support (DELTS) department. “Students walk in and say ‘Wow!’ ­The wow factor is important when educating someone. It’s not just someone scribbling on a chalkboard.” ­

Richard Stockton College of New Jersey

Stockton College and the FAA Tech Center are geographically close in New Jersey, but intellectually even closer thanks to their shared interest in technology, research, and collaboration. These collective pursuits led experts at the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey to design and install a high-tech classroom at the Federal Aviation Administration's William J. Hughes Technical Center, which is located about 15 minutes from the school's campus.

Small Animal Hospital

Veterinary students who once huddled together to observe a surgeon's intricate moves now have another learning option at the University of Florida. There, AMX technology allows students near and far to have a bird's eye view of every small step of a procedure.

amx award logo

Innovation and initiative are integral to higher education success, but three schools recently stood out to judges of the 2011 AMX Innovation Awards. The University of Florida, College of Veterinary Medicine; Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada; and The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey were selected from a field of over 500 nominations.

Most colleges and universities attending EduComm send one or two, sometimes three, people to the conference. Last June, Life University (Ga.) sent seven of its administrators and faculty to learn from the breakout sessions and see the latest higher education technology on the EduComm exhibit floor.

You can’t just toss an old computer into the corner trash can when it has outlived its usefulness.

Because of the environmental issues involved, special care must be taken in disposing of such equipment. Often, that involves paying for proper disposal. If you do choose to trash aging PCs in a Dumpster, you need to wipe any sensitive data from each one’s hard drive for security and privacy reasons.

American colleges and universities are breeding grounds for innovative ideas and open information sharing. Pair that with a large number of systems on a given network and a vulnerable student population with fresh credit and you've got an appealing target for identity thieves.

The look of instructional technology is changing rapidly, as are the roles and strategies of the IT professional. Higher education technology’s legacy was characterized by six key areas: a strong sense of faculty ownership; hidden costs of free systems and networks; content and delivery mechanisms that were not well-differentiated; unstructured innovation; systems that would neither scale nor integrate; and service levels that were little more than “We’ll give it our best”--all with security being a mere afterthought.