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Articles: Software

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.

Before switching to a new LMS, campus administrators should determine a learning strategy and the functions needed to support it.

Stable, reliable and adaptable. Those are the key descriptors for a successful learning management system. When the current LMS doesn’t provide a needed functionality, schools can often add new features or configurations to achieve the desired outcome. But in some cases, it’s time to scrap the old system.

As technology advances and students remain on the cutting edge, colleges and universities have no choice but to keep up. That means ensuring that students can access the information they need, whenever they need it, from whatever device they choose. This creates an array of challenges for institutions, from increased volume of help desk calls, to providing a consistent user experience across devices and operating systems, to controlling access to sensitive information.

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.

At Grand Valley State University, faculty are asked to write a script before using the video-hosting platform to record a lecture.

While video’s presence in higher learning is undoubtedly expanding, the frequency and extent to which it is being used varies widely—even within institutions. Here are best practices for effectively integrating video into course collections at the campuswide level.

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.

Richard Baraniuk talked about how free, digital textbooks are created in his open keynote at UBTech. (Photo: David Bergeland)

UBTech open keynote speaker Richard Baraniuk, of Rice University, talked about an initiative to create a library of free, high-quality textbooks for college courses and how that can impact the debt crisis facing students.

Small schools led in SIS purchases, but mid-tier schools were more active in 2013.

A potentially positive higher ed economic indicator is that more institutions purchased student information systems in 2013 than had done so in any year since 2008, according to a recent market analysis by The Tambellini Group.

Two of the main reasons given for the 195 purchases were the need to update outdated software and to replace homegrown systems.

In March, Excelsior College launched its new Online Writing Lab or OWL , a comprehensive, media-rich, open-source resource designed for students making the transition to college-level writing. Developed with funding from the Kresge Foundation, this free, publicly available OWL uses extensive multimedia and gaming activities to help reinforce important writing concepts and skills, and provide students with a warm, engaging online environment in which to learn.

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.

As more colleges and universities offer credit for MOOCs, one problem that has cropped up is how to authenticate the results of student assessments conducted online.

A handful of companies have developed a solution: online proctoring. Using a webcam to monitor the students as they take tests, online proctors can peer into students’ living rooms, kitchens or back patios, watching their computer screens and observing their eye movements to ensure they are not looking at notes in a closed-book exam.

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.