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Articles: Software

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Two of the main reasons given for the 195 purchases were the need to update outdated software and to replace homegrown systems.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

It’s not enough today to put together a presentation and talk through the slides. Students have short attention spans and need to be fully engaged with the course material. In this session, Brian Klaas, web systems designer for the Center for Teaching and Learning with Technology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, explains how to create a lively, memorable presentation or online class lecture using the basic structure of a great screenplay. Here are his eight recommendations.

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.

 Today, preparing for a course may require students to gather a wide variety of resources, both printed and digital.

Preparing to take a college-level course once meant simply heading to the campus bookstore and purchasing the textbook. Today, preparing for a course may require students to gather a wide variety of resources, both printed and digital. And while the printed items are still available at the bookstore, accessing a variety of digital materials is not always an easy task.

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.

Not everyone on campus is ready to use e-books, video lectures and other digital learning materials. But the campus bookstore can help in the adoption of new technology.

“As the course materials information center on campus, college stores are uniquely positioned to be the go-to resources on digital,” says Elizabeth McIntyre, vice president of communications and public relations at the National Association of College Stores. “Stores should take a role in educating the campus community about digital.”

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