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Articles: Teaching & Learning

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Russ McDonald, head of United Tribes Technical College in Bismarck, North Dakota, is serving on a new federal commission to address the challenges facing Native American children.

Russ McDonald, head of United Tribes Technical College in Bismarck, North Dakota, is serving on a new federal commission to address the challenges facing Native American children.

Over ten years ago, members of the humanities division at Blinn College, a two-year community college with four campuses and 18,000 students in central Texas, long suspected students were either not submitting original copy or working with peers on projects when collaboration wasn’t allowed.
 
Teachers had performed Google searches whenever unoriginality was suspected but knew some plagiarized work was slipping through the cracks, says Audrey Wick, an English professor at Blinn.
 

More than a quarter million hours—that’s how much time students at the University of Arizona collectively spent watching recorded lectures, flipped classroom presentations, and other academic video just last year.

But it wasn’t always this way. In fact, just a short time ago, the University of Arizona was like many other institutions when it came to supporting lecture capture and academic video: Different departments experimenting with different solutions to support different objectives.

Most U.S. colleges and universities have an LMS for academic activities, including posting syllabuses, grading and sending out announcements.

Online faculty at Castleton University don’t just dole out tests—they take them, too. Full- and part-time instructors who have no experience teaching online with Moodle’s learning management system work through a self-paced, six-module course created by associate academic dean Cathy Kozlik. 

Maenette K.P. Ah Nee-Benham, who's taught higher ed since 1993, was honored as Educator of the Year by The Native Hawaiian Education Association in 2015.

Maenette K.P. Ah Nee-Benham is the new chancellor of the University of Hawai’i West O’ahu. A native Hawaiian, Benham was previously the inaugural dean of the Hawai’inuiakea School of Hawaiian Knowledge at University of Hawai’i Manoa, the only college of indigenous knowledge at a Research I institution in the U.S.

Campus technology leaders report significant new investment to come this year in the area of academic tech tools such as lecture capture, AV equipment and active classroom initiatives. It’s the third year in a row academic technology led the list of top significant investments in a UB survey. 

Bill Path is president of Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology

Despite its sometimes rigid conventions and customs, higher education is still very good at finding innovative solutions to problems that face students. Today’s college graduates are struggling. They need the technical skills to enter the modern workforce and the ability to advance their careers—not one or the other.

With only 775 students, the need for a dedicated AV department was low at Martin Luther College, a teacher and pastor training institution in southwest Minnesota. The IT department handled the installation and wiring of emergency broadcast systems and of classroom AV technology, including projectors.

But as the school’s music program grew, an AV division created itself within the IT department.

“We always recorded concerts, but then five years ago, the desire arose to live-stream concerts and recitals,” says James Rathje, director of instructional technology.

“Look for a system that is very easy to use and easily adopted. I would want to make sure the new SIS could be easily connected to the fundraising system, housing system and admission system. I’d look for the SIS to become the core of our operation and make sure everything can easily be integrated with it.”

—Jack Chen, CIO, Adelphi University

Students at Connecticut College can access its student information system via mobile or desktop.

In today’s world of vast networks and complex data analysis, the student information system is becoming a powerful tool to track—and influence—student success. By looking at the big picture of data generated across an institution’s enterprise resource planning software, universities can begin to forecast student outcomes.

The University of Maryland’s open source textbook initiative, known as “MOST,” has guided faculty through more than 50 OER adoptions. The program helps instructors assemble resources to significantly keep down the cost of course materials.

Open educational resources have grown over the last few years from one-off oddities in single courses to the basis of entire degree programs. Cutting out textbook costs for students tops the list of reasons administrators encourage faculty to develop and adopt these free—or very inexpensive—resources, also known as OER.

Equipped for Response—In 2015, more than 600 instructors and 20,000 students used clickers at  The University of Arizona. The Office of Instruction and Assessment’s resources page offers a primer with clicker best practices and strategies, including tips on writing good questions.  Photo: Thomas Veneklasen Photography/Arizona Board of Regents

Colleges and universities have used student response systems for years to take attendance, administer pop quizzes and register informal polls in larger classes where verbal discussions are limited. But as technology improves, student response systems are becoming more versatile than ever—and instructors are increasingly creative in using them.

“I know the idea of bringing your own device is becoming more prominent, but I still think pulling out a phone, tablet or laptop is distracting. You always lose students for a measurable amount of time, and that’s the primary concern.”

Dwight Farris, instructional technologist, The University of Arizona

Achieving smooth deployment of a new student success system can be challenging, say administrators who have tackled the challenge. (Gettyimages.com: Godruma • Nidwlw • Aarrows)

Early alert systems. Transfer credit assessment tools. Adaptive technologies. Apps to push student reminders. Career assessment software. Colleges and universities nationwide use these and many other success technologies to help students improve grades, increase involvement and persist to graduation with as little debt as possible.

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