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Articles: Technology

 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.

In fall 2012, Sage launched the Achieve Degree program, an online degree designed for students on the autism spectrum or with other special needs, who generally work from home or their local library.

In an online seminar on the Greek rhetorician Isocrates offered at the University of Pittsburgh, 176 students listened to a live stream of a discussion among graduate students taking the on-campus version of the class and then asked questions or made comments via Twitter.

The eight graduate students in the brick-and-mortar class took turns recording lectures once a week for the online students during the course this past fall. And both the online and doctoral students could interact with one another on the discussion board on Blackboard’s CourseSites platform.

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.

More college students are using their smartphones as a study tool even though the internet and activities like texting were cited as the biggest distractions to hitting the books, according to a new study by McGraw-Hill Education.

Of the 500 students who responded to the “Impact of Technology on College Student Study Habits” survey, 36 percent said they used smartphones at least some of the time for studying.

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.”

Craig Marshall says digital signage can give students the real-time information they expect.

As the world becomes more connected, it is changing the way we view information and interact with it. By 2014, it is estimated there will be approximately 2 billion computers, 5 billion smartphones, 7 billion people, and 10 billion smart devices. Smart devices are all around us; they are in our home, our car, our office and our schools, virtually everywhere we look.

An open textbook produced at Scottsdale Community College in Arizona.

As higher ed revolutions go, open textbooks may have been pushed below the surface by the technological tidal wave that is MOOCs. But several institutions are making a new push to provide students with free or very low-cost textbooks.

SUNY Open Textbooks posted its first two digital titles—written by SUNY faculty—in October and is preparing to release dozens more, says the program’s director, Cyril Oberlander, who is also library director at SUNY Geneseo.

When Tina Seelig, executive director of the Stanford Technology Ventures Program, taught “A Crash Course on Creativity” last spring, the 38 students in her graduate class worked on the same projects as the 25,000 people around the world who took the MOOC version of the course.

The MOOC not only offered an alternative to Stanford students who were unable to take this oversubscribed class, but also included perspective from people across the globe.

Todd Kelly, Vice President for Library and Information Services

It was clear four years ago that Wisconsin-based Carthage College needed a new system for managing help requests from the campus community. The Library and Information Services (LIS) staff of 25 was manually handling nearly 12,000 questions each year from faculty, staff and students about everything library or technology-related. Additionally, many of the requests were sent made informally directly to technicians. That made tracking and follow-up nearly impossible, especially given the rapid growth the college was experiencing.

Brian Slavinskas, Director of Special Projects, Loyola University

When as much as 80 percent of Loyola University's documents were in hard copy form, missing paperwork, unnecessary duplication, clutter and the never-ending need for more storage only made peoples' jobs inefficient and time consuming.

Employing an assessment and relocation strategy consolidated the  number of locations with computers and printers on campus, but easier  access to the technology has increased usage.

Despite having 4,500 computers and dozens of printers deployed campuswide at Boise State University in Idaho, students had to wait in line to print out assignments and term papers during busy times.

CIO Max Davis-Johnson arrived in 2010, and officials began taking a closer look at how technology was being used, and where. Davis-Johnson uses the phrase “keeping score” to describe this process of tracking technology usage to ensure that every available asset is being productive for the university.

Technology-based exams are a good fit for the pharmacy school, which is housed in a $75-million, technology-rich facility that opened this fall.

After tripping over boxes of old exams at the College of Pharmacy at the University of Rhode Island for the umpteenth time, clinical faculty members Kelly Matson and Jayne Pawasauskas decided there had to be a better system.

Since exams are required to be kept for two semesters, the amount of paper used and boxes needed to store them at the institution became unwieldy. Add to that the amount of time needed to photocopy exams, the money spent on paper and toner cartridges, and the negative impact on the environment.

Like virtually every other administrative unit in higher education, the Information Technology Division at Valdosta State University in Georgia employed students to supplement the efforts of full-time staff. They were deployed in about 50 classrooms and computer labs across campus, where they helped monitor the use of nearly 1,500 desktop computers.

Assessing staffing issues a year ago, administrators realized that expectations for those students were set by the individual departments each classroom and lab served.

With key performance indicators published online, anyone can eyeball the improvements the IT department has made.

The explosion of technological devices, software, and apps has been undeniably beneficial to higher education, but there is at least one group on which it has placed quite a burden: those charged with keeping all of that technology running smoothly.

“Technology support is a challenge no matter where you are,” says Chris Megill, associate director of technology services at The George Washington University (D.C). “Keeping up with trends and user demands as they adopt more and more technologies can be quite a challenge.”