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Articles: Software

Ramapo College of New Jersey

Think back to your first week on the job. Amidst the endless paperwork and the time you spent figuring out your new voicemail system, you probably sat in a conference room for an hour or two and participated in an employee benefits orientation session … with maybe one or two other new hires, if that.


Of all the voluminous paperwork generated by institutions of higher education, perhaps none drowns administrators quite so much as the waves of financial aid forms that surge through offices. With lending institutions and government funding agencies maintaining a keen interest in where their money is going, students and staff alike must take care to cross every “T” and dot every “I,” and such attention to bureaucratic detail requires lots of paper—and lots of human capital to process it all.

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.

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.

The second year of the ongoing Models of Efficiency program continues to demonstrate that campus departments can be innovative and inspired when it comes to finding ways to provide superior service and maximize resources.

"We believe that improving the efficiency of administrative services yields cost savings and reputation benefits that can propel a college into the top tier of success," noted Miles Lasater, chief operations officer and cofounder of Higher One, which has sponsored the Models of Efficiency program from the start.

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.

Albert Einstein had this to say about problem-solving: "You can never solve a problem on the same level on which it was created." In other words, the solution lies at a higher level. That is certainly the truth for many efforts in higher education, where overcoming administrative challenges? that are holding back student or institutional success or service is often about reaching for innovative solutions.

Officials at Fresno Pacific University (Calif.) had quite a few reasons to take the institution’s online distance-learning registration system from an external vendor and bring it in-house: Poor customer service and high costs. Insecure and time-consuming methods of communicating with both students and instructors. Duplicate inputting of information. Manual processing of credit card transactions.

Most pressing, though, was a troublesome security breach in 2006 that involved the compromising of a group of credit card numbers.

You need something done. What are you told?

“Fill out a form.”

Western Washington University officials figured there had to be a better way. The use of hard-copy forms to request services, they believed, was a waste of paper and time, as the requisitions had to be sent via campus mail to the appropriate parties, who in turn had to review, copy, and file them. Each person in the approval chain needed his or her own copy, and there was no central repository where the forms could be accessed easily.

The academic calendar maintains its own particular cycle and pivots on its own particular axis. Critical dates, such as deadlines for the submission and changing of grades, must be honored. After all, should the calendar lose its adherence, the effects can be negative.

If you haven’t made your plans yet for EduComm 2011, let me take this opportunity to tell you about the variety of fast-paced, information-packed breakout sessions scheduled for attendees. Covering a range of topics from learning technology and social media to enrollment strategies and leadership issues, the sessions are designed to inform and enlighten all decision makers at colleges and universities about the changes, challenges and solutions, that higher education must confront today and in the coming years.