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Articles: Software

DIGITIZE THIS—Students scan Civil War documents at Bowdoin College.

The mass digitization of literature is complex. The preservation of books, letters and other historical materials calls for advanced technology and a good deal of manpower. Universities are developing better practices around this process, as well as creating software and databases to make this content accessible and search-friendly.

SCHOLARLY PURSUITS— SUNY Oneonta awards badges to participants in its annual Research and Creativity Day. Each April, students present projects—from research papers to video documentaries—they’ve completed independently and with faculty mentors.

Diplomas—those venerable printed documents that lack hotlinks and interactivity features—have lost some of their luster.

Amid students cutting textiles, making shoes, firing ceramics and making prints at the Parsons School of Design’s Making Center in midtown Manhattan is a whole wall of 3D printers.

The essence of 3D printing is a concept called additive manufacturing that builds up the item one layer at a time.

CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT—At  The University of Arizona, academic advisors know that every student matters when it comes to retention, not just because each individual’s success is important but also because they realize that retaining just a few extra students raises overall retention rates.

There’s no doubt that higher ed institutions have access to tons of student data these days, but what separates actionable insights from analytics overload?

Higher ed administrators are using apps and platforms behind the scenes to help create efficiencies, increase productivity, and manage projects and workflow.

1. Set some ground rules. After introducing Slack, some users felt it was hard to cut through the clutter of irrelevant information, says Dominic Abbate, the creative director at The George Washington University. So they responded by setting up specific channels designated for non-work chit-chat like #food and #just-for-fun.

2. Listen to feedback. When Cherwell’s adoption rate was lagging because the tool was too complex and IT-focused, The University of New Mexico’s IT team redesigned the portal to make it more customer-friendly.

Yammer (free)

Good for: Collaboration and communication

Who’s using it: Penn State

From event planning to website redesign, setting up Yammer networking groups to share ideas, get feedback and check in on the progress of projects can help large campuses stay connected.

Trello (free)

Good for: Tracking projects

Who’s using it: The George Washington University

Disabilities services administrators at Greenfield Community College in Massachusetts, University of Connecticut and Landmark College in Vermont recommend the following assistive technology for students with executive dysfunction:

Higher ed institutions in the U.S. lead the world when it comes to producing graduates who go on to create unicorns—private start-up companies worth in excess of $1 billion, such as Uber, Facebook or SpaceX.

Ten years ago, few universities employed chief information security officers. Now these administrators—known as CISOs—lead teams dedicated to shielding information, systems and research from internet thieves, and to keeping up with federal regulations.

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. 

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.

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.

“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

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