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Students of Dallas County Community College District can access the individual website for each of its seven colleges via the system’s app to find news, photos and social media activity. The app helps cut down on the number of incoming calls to various campus offices.

With apps now a fixture on the vast majority of campuses, colleges and universities are no longer debating whether to develop their own mobile platforms. Instead, they are creating the next generation of apps for students who turn to their smartphones for everything from checking their grades to checking their laundry.

When it comes to online education, careful course development is hardly the only piece needed for successful student outcomes. Colleges without long-time experience in distance learning may be far more likely to overlook the importance of adequate support services. Just how can these needs be met? Here are seven ways to provide exceptional support for online students.

Students learning to investigate aircraft accidents can sift through the debris of simulated crashes on eight acres of land at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s campus in Prescott, Ariz.

Last month, the institution, which has 150 locations around the world, launched a virtual version of the lab. While not meant to replace the real-life lab, it may offer remote students a more extensive experience of simulated accidents, its designers say.

Online labs require fewer instructors, and can even be taught by teacher assistants. (Photo: eScience Labs)

Budget crunches and crowded courses are two reasons online science labs are becoming more popular in higher ed. Some online labs require little or no equipment, and take up no space on campus.

Western Governors University’s 43,000 online students make for the nation’s largest all-you-can-learn program.

Adult students are treating themselves to a higher ed buffet through a handful of programs where all-you-can-learn tuition lets them move as quickly as they can toward a degree and advancement in the workforce.

Gene Wade is CEO of University Now, parent company of Patten University.

Since last June, students at the for-profit Patten University have been able to take all-you-can-learn, competency-based programs online and at the institution’s campus in Oakland, Calif.

Undergraduate tuition is $1,316 for a four-month term or $350 for a month. Students can take as many classes as they can fit into their schedule. The average student takes three classes per term, says Gene Wade, CEO of Patten’s parent company, UniversityNow.

The University of Wisconsin’s all-you-can-learn, competency-based flex program—designed for adult students—started in January. Students can pay $2,250 for a three-month, all-you-can-learn subscription, or just $900 to work on a single set of competencies, says Vice Chancellor Aaron Brower, the interim provost of the UW Extension School.

Tuition covers assessments and faculty mentoring, and students’ get help organizing their studies from an academic coach—a new role that combines duties of an advisor and tutor. All work is graded by University of Wisconsin faculty.

Though more than 8 million people have taken a MOOC in the past three years, the number of students to take advantage of MOOC-for-credit programs is even smaller.

Despite growing interest in the higher ed community about the potential of credit being offered for MOOCs, the number of institutions that have rolled out such programs is small.

And though more than 8 million people have taken a MOOC in the past three years, the number of students to take advantage of MOOC-for-credit programs is even smaller.

As more colleges and universities offer credit for MOOCs, one problem that has cropped up is how to authenticate the results of student assessments conducted online.

A handful of companies have developed a solution: online proctoring. Using a webcam to monitor the students as they take tests, online proctors can peer into students’ living rooms, kitchens or back patios, watching their computer screens and observing their eye movements to ensure they are not looking at notes in a closed-book exam.

Industry-driven
A Toyota workforce study revealed: Within 10 years, at least 200 employees in their Indiana manufacturing plant would retire.
Action: Partner with university to launch the Toyota Advanced Manufacturing Technician Program

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