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Articles: Technology

Higher ed AV and IT leaders to are gathering at UBTech (Orlando, June 12-14) to share best practices for new technology implementations.

Scott A. Bass is the provost at American University in Washington, D.C.

How many databases does your campus administer in the broad area of student support? American University uses more than 36 databases for different student-related administrative and learning management functions—yet, there is little to no integration.

W. Allen Richman, dean of the Office of Planning, Assessment and Institutional Research at Prince George’s Community College, has led the institution in revamping data systems to get a clearer picture of student performance.

Data can be a beautiful thing. It can reveal patterns, failures and sometimes, surprises—as long as the measurements are consistent. At Prince George’s Community College that wasn’t the case. Each class was measuring different things, so campus leaders couldn’t quite see the big picture.

IT Community Unity—At Cal Poly Pomona, AV harmoniously operates under the greater information technology department umbrella—which may well be because the CIO still allows AV to have autonomy. (Photo: Cal Poly Pomona/Tom Zasadzinski)

AV has been absorbed by the IT department on many college campuses. But is the situation more like a friendly merger or hostile takeover?

The trend started in the mid-2000s, when AV equipment joined the network and control moved to remote software suites. The transition put AV departments in constant communication with the IT teams that manage those networks—making the adoption of AV by IT a natural progression.

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.

Shani Lenore-Jenkins is associate vice president of enrollment at Maryville University.

While its primary focus is to educate students, a university is still a business with customers. Traditional marketing methods such as mailings, phone calls and old-fashioned boots-on-the-ground visits are no longer the best ways to reach today’s tech-savvy students, who find the information they need online.

Considering that textbooks can account for 25 percent of a community college student’s degree, some institutions have banded together to develop more open educational resources.

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.

John Meagle is the chief marketing officer at Centenary University in New Jersey.

When Centenary College was granted university status in May, the news was celebrated by students, faculty, alumni and staff. For the marketing and student recruitment team, it was an opportunity to build awareness of the experience the institution offers career-oriented students.

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

Karine Joly: The open-source Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) Project (http://UBmag.me/amp) is spearheaded by Google and backed by several content publishers, e-commerce websites, advertising networks and analytics solutions providers.

There’s no doubt mobile devices anchor our technology-enabled lives. We may not use their small screens on the go, all the time, but when we do, we have high expectations—if a web page takes more than a few seconds to load on mobile, many of us move on to another website. Patience has never been in shorter supply.

The smartphone has become ubiquitous on college campuses. In the U.S., some estimates indicate that 95 percent of 18- to 24-years-olds have a smartphone, and that number will continue to grow.

Students and instructors use their smartphones every day to communicate with friends, family and colleagues, manage their schedules, consume content, and much more. Their engagement with these devices is often very personalized, sending and receiving information that is meant specifically for them as individuals.

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