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Articles: Software

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.

It’s a simple idea for community colleges that sounds almost archaic: Check the help wanted ads and shape programs around available jobs. In practice, the idea involves new, sophisticated “spidering” and artificial intelligence technologies that can aggregate and analyze online job ads, providing a comprehensive source of information. A Jobs for the Future report published this fall explores the options and how the analysis is being done by a handful of colleges and states.

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.

Laden with application forms, transcripts, financial aid documents, and more, the admissions function is awash in paperwork. As frustrating as it may be for prospective students who have to compile and send such documentation, imagine being on the receiving end.

Laundry Made Easy

Cloud email

Numerous advantages are driving cloud email adoption. Migrating email to the cloud offers campuses substantial financial savings and eliminates on-site mail system infrastructure. Schools avoid email server backups, shrink email support time, off-load maintenance, and bypass the need for server-based anti-virus, anti-spam and email filtering products, according to Rich Brown, founder of Dartware, a network monitoring software developer, and a former network manager at Dartmouth College. Decent uptime (when service is up without any downtime) is usually a benefit, as well.


College campuses are typically beautiful places. Tree-lined walkways, verdant quads, and stately buildings make for a pleasant place to take a walk.

But for staff at the University of St. Francis (Ill.), too many campus strolls took up time that could be better spent on other tasks—such as tending to prospective students. And the paper files they were delivering from office to office belied the university's commitment to environmentalism.


Student-athletes face the daunting task of keeping up with their studies while also devoting considerable time to practicing, competing, and traveling. That pressure extends upward to coaches, administrators, and faculty members, who are required to assess student progress and make adjustments amidst wildly varying schedules.

good walk

Until recently, applicants to the University of North Carolina, Wilmington’s Graduate School mailed in their applications, which were then walked—as in, physically carried—across campus to the school’s 46 different programs for review. Graduate coordinators often discovered necessary documents were missing, necessitating either another cross-campus trip to deliver the retrieved information or a resubmission by the applicant, which triggered the process anew.


Like many institutions, the University of St. Francis rolled out an online portal a few years ago in order to offer round-the-clock support and information to the entire campus community. Given its varied academic profile—a main campus in Joliet, Ill.; a satellite campus in Albuquerque, N.M.; and a thriving distance-learning program—officials hoped the integration of technology into business processes would lead to greater efficiencies and cost savings.


While the rest of the working world uses summer as a time to decamp to waterfront locales, college and university officials take advantage of quieter campuses to catch up on projects and prepare for the return of students. At Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston, summer activities include training student leaders.


Retaining freshman students is a vital yet difficult task. Utah Valley University, with its primarily commuter campus, found it especially onerous, with about six out of 10 first-year students opting not to return for their sophomore years. Given that one of the requirements of the Title III grant it had received was to increase retention, the university had a particularly vested interest in succeeding.


Typical college students, you’ve probably realized, are not 9-to-5 kinds of people. With classes, socializing, part-time jobs, and a myriad of other duties and desires crowding their schedules, they live by clocks that vary widely. This can be a problem for those tasked with providing them the services that help optimize their collegiate experience. Many of those folks, after all, work more traditional schedules and aren’t around to answer a call from a student on her way from her waitressing gig to the library to get some late-night studying in.