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Articles: Technology

The State University of New York (SUNY) may have the most talked about shared services program in the nation. As part of an effort to try to reduce administrative costs and funnel the savings toward academics and student services, the system’s administration has been working to adopt a shared service model across its 64 campuses. That model has even included shared presidents.

Working in Groups
Vaddio’s GroupSTATION, designed for mid-to large-size meeting spaces, allows up to 20 people to share a PowerPoint presentation, stream a training video from YouTube, or collaborate with remote participants. Users can connect a laptop or tablet directly into GroupSTATION, which consists of two main components: a table-based MicPOD dock, and a wall-mounted sound bar that incorporates an HD camera in its center. The MicPOD Dock functions as a microphone, speakerphone, and user interface.

Vanishing boundaries, emerging opportunities. That was the overarching theme in Orlando this June as approximately 1,000 attendees gathered at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin resort for learning, networking, and fun. Some traveled far to UBTech 2013—with attendees from Brisbane, Australia; London; and Rio de Janeiro—and others came in from a few dozen colleges and universities in Florida.

It’s hard to follow higher education news these days without seeing a reference to MOOCs. The online learning platforms from edX, Coursera, Udacity, and others were launched to great fanfare over the last two years. Proponents praise them for their potential to change education, while critics chalk them up as more hype than hope.

While it’s not yet on the radar of most development professionals in higher education, crowdsourcing has become a very noticeable part of the online fundraising landscape for younger donors

Yale created site to give commencement guests access to event schedules, interactive maps, parking information, and directions via their smartphones

Students, faculty, and staff turn to campus help desks when their work has come to a standstill because technology isn’t behaving as they think it should. IT support centers at colleges and universities across the nation are ditching paper and turning to software solutions to help get frustrated users back on track more effectively and efficiently.

At the Rochester Institute of Technology (N.Y.), biomedical photography students are using videoconferencing technology to show their work to audiences in Wales. A librarian is providing tutorials to students at satellite campuses in Eastern Europe. And researchers are holding meetings with project sponsors hundreds of miles away.

The number of students taking at least one course online is on the rise; the 2012 Survey of Online Learning conducted by the Babson Survey Research Group and released this year indicated that number surpassed 6.7 million for the fall 2011 semester.

That said, there is a divergence between higher ed administrators and faculty on the value of online learning. Seventy-seven percent of academic leaders surveyed believe online education results in the same or superior learning outcomes as in face-to-face classes.

Is it time for MOOC 2.0? Those behind World Education University (WEU) think so. The free online university opened its virtual doors worldwide on February 1.

Scott Hines, WEU’s chief operating officer, doesn’t mind the comparison to MOOC providers such as Coursera, which he sees as great trail blazers. But he sees WEU as the next step in the evolutionary process of online learning.

What is the most important lesson learned after a responsive website project?

It doesn’t have to do with coding tricks. It does have to do with content.

“We knew what we were getting ourselves into, but we’ve seen how much easier it is to develop a responsive website from the ground-up,” says Carolyn Wilson, campus webmaster at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

Have you noticed how nearly everybody has been weighing in on whether or not higher ed should embrace responsive websites? Web developers and designers working in universities, of course, but also marketers, communicators, and college magazine editors have debated, at conferences or on Twitter, the pros and cons of the responsive web design approach.

Many institutions with a single traditional brick and mortar campus are diversifying the methods for delivering their programs by going online, developing hybrid courses, and even establishing centers at locations off-campus. In his UBTech featured session, “Using Multiple Delivery Methods to Reduce the Cost of Higher Education,” Alan Walker, former president of Upper Iowa University, will discuss the challenges and cost benefits of strategic diversification.

It’s no secret that universities across the nation are facing more challenges than ever before. Shrinking budgets are contrasted with higher costs and aging facilities. The government is getting more involved from a regulatory standpoint while decreasing its funding support for education. Demand is up, enrollments are all over the map and across the board, and graduation rates are down. It’s a roller coaster of peaks and valleys that leaves schools fighting for ways to cope, retain students, and help them graduate on time.

Whether you think they are hype or the next step in the evolution of learning, there’s no question that MOOCs have taken the education world by storm.

Platforms such as Coursera, edX, and UniversityNow offer free courses online to students anywhere, and are continuing to grow. Coursera now has more than 60 partners here and abroad, including École Polytechnique in France, the National University of Singapore, the Chinese University of Hong Kong and National Autonomous University of Mexico.