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Articles: Technology

In the past few years, many universities have begun to explore a concept frequently and successfully implemented in the corporate world, but previously rare in higher education: shared services. The term “shared services” refers to a streamlining process where administrative tasks or technology management services that regularly occurred across several departments in the organization are placed under the authority of one unit.

As long as there are assignments for college students to research and write, it’s likely there will be copiers and printers to help. Good news for paper and copier companies, for sure, but bad news for institutions such as expansive Houston Community College, at least until recently. HCC’s six colleges and 27 sites allow it to educate more than 70,000 students a semester, but without centralized print and copy management solutions, efficiency lagged severely.

Until the summer of 2013, the primary sources of technology support services at Fairfield University in Connecticut were the reference librarians and circulation staff at the DiMenna-Nyselius Library—not the technology help desk. Questions about software, using campus printers or accessing the university’s wireless network were most commonly answered by the library professionals who were within earshot.

The setting was big, the company was good and the technology talk was buzzing at this year’s UBTech Conference, held June 16 to 18 at The Mirage Las Vegas.

And based on the feedback from our 1,273 attendees, the “Technology Changes Everything” tagline will be put into practice as administrators and educators from the more than 500 institutions represented at the event share information and propose projects and programs back on their own campuses.

Click to enlarge: UBTech 2014 racked up big numbers in attendees and activities. (Graphic: Rebecca Eller)

The accompanying infographic provides some of the key numbers for UBTech 2014, which took place in June at the Mirage in Las Vegas.

Click to enlarge the graphic to find stats for number of attendees, number of sessions and cups of coffee consumed -- and more. And don't forget to share our graphic on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest. We all know a captivating image boosts the power of our posts. 

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.

Four major university systems will share online courses, analytics and learning-management software through a cloud-based digital education platform called Unizin, portions of which launched in July.

Developed by Indiana University, Colorado State University, the University of Florida and the University of Michigan, Unizin will house everything from homework videos to flipped classroom content to distance learning courses—plus all the data that’s generated.

"Yours, mine or ours? Intellectual property in a digital age" was a featured session at this year's UBTech in Las Vegas.

“Copyright is broken,” said Kevin Smith, scholarly communications officer at Duke University, to open his UBTech featured session on intellectual property. Smith, who is an attorney and a librarian, noted that in recent years technological innovation has put a severe strain on our copyright law, which dates from 1976.

A survey covering 21 social networks found colleges and universities use only four to recruit.

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram continue to be the most widely used online recruitment mediums for higher ed marketers, who may want to consider delving into other platforms now popular among high school seniors.

A graduating senior applying for a position completed a successful phone interview and travelled to a face-to-face interview with the company. Instead of an interview, the candidate was told upon arrival that the company had discovered ‘inappropriate’ posts and behavior in his social media. The candidate was directly rebuked and dismissed without any hope of ever obtaining a position in the company.

Yes, this is a true story from a CEO, who had wished they had looked at social media earlier in the process.

Azusa Pacific University in California first used the #iHeartAPU hashtag in 2011 to hype up orientation, where students get T-shirts with the phrase.

Incoming, current and prospective students and alumni were using #iHeartAPU year-round, so a new hashtag—#APUBound—was introduced in 2013. That one is now used to interact with students in the months leading up to orientation.

Ben Nelson, CEO of the Minerva Project, says he has created "the most selective undergraduate class in the history of American higher education.”

What if you could create a new kind of university? What would it be like?

For Ben Nelson, CEO of the Minerva Project, it would combine a redefined student body, a reinvented curriculum, rigorous academic standards, cutting-edge technology and an immersive global experience. Nelson launched Minerva in 2011 to provide an Ivy League-like education at a fraction of the cost.

Students of Dallas County Community College District can access the individual website for each of its seven colleges via the system’s app to find news, photos and social media activity. The app helps cut down on the number of incoming calls to various campus offices.

With apps now a fixture on the vast majority of campuses, colleges and universities are no longer debating whether to develop their own mobile platforms. Instead, they are creating the next generation of apps for students who turn to their smartphones for everything from checking their grades to checking their laundry.

Karine Joly is the web editor behind, a blog about higher ed web marketing, public relations and technologies.

Authentication and identification of active campus network users have always been at the core of the IT applications necessary to run a university.

If you can’t log in, you can’t get your email, register for your course, pay your bills, and so on. That’s why most institutions have strived to offer integrated and secure single sign-on (SSO) solutions to students, staff and faculty. The technology doesn’t get in the way and users don’t need to remember multiple passwords.

When mapping out how wayfinding should be incorporated into digital signage on campus, ease of use for students and visitors should be the top concern. “The more information that can be presented visually, rather than textually, the more easily information can be digested in terms of wayfinding,” says Lyle Bunn, a digital signage expert based outside Toronto.