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

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. 

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. 

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.

“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

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.

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.

What do you see as the biggest mistake colleges and universities make when implementing student success technology?

“Retention technology can identify potential at-risk students, but then you need success coaches in place to effectively engage students. Helping coaches understand data and apply it proactively instead of reactively will empower them to reach out long before red flags surface.”

—Steve Pappageorge, chief product officer and senior vice president, Helix Education

Adaptive learning uses computers for interactive teaching, with the materials adapted based on each student’s needs.

Translating traditional lectures to an adaptive learning format takes time, expertise and budget dollars. To make a smooth transition from traditional to adaptive learning, here are six challenges to implementation and what early adopters have done to clear those hurdles.

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