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On the Clouds!


Colleges and universities are finding that the cloud is an ideal environment for serving modern technology to modern day students. Using the cloud students will have easy access to course material at their fingertips to help them succeed in higher education.

The cloud gives students more ways to learn such as providing 24/7 course resources on any mobile device in a faster and easier way. Since students learn at different times, in different ways, and in different environments, the cloud provides assignments, learning supplements, self-paced tests, and other aids accessible when needed. With 24/7 access students are not restricted to library or office hours. What the cloud does is it takes advantage of modern technologies to provide a database where students can access up-to-date information. The cloud eliminates data silos, so students and faculty aren’t constantly tracking down information from multiple sources. Students also have multi-user communication, which enable collaboration and ways to learn beyond a traditional textbook or classroom lecture. In the end the cloud’s goal is not to keep up with modern technology, but to help improve student success by providing fast, easy, and reliable course material.

Schools that are taking advantage of modern technologies have noticed that the cloud offers an effective and cost-efficient experience for student resources. Meanwhile providing students with more ways to learn in an easy fast way.

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24 Hour Tech Studio

The University of Utah will open a new building in 2016 that will provide a space for college students to connect and collaborate using high-tech tools. Many students commented that they needed a space to connect with students to help better their projects/ideas. Other students simply needed a place that would allow them to work 24 hours on-campus that provided the high tech equipment they need. The university took action to construct a building that would bring all 400 student entrepreneurs together under one roof, which will open in the fall of 2016. A game designer from Utah University stated that the best people to test our new video game idea’s he’s developing are incoming freshman. The new building will provide students with the opportunity to develop their products as well as build a community within their school.

Students will have access to helpful tools such as 3D printers, milling machines and saws, as well as high-tech modeling software. The building will also have open floor plans to give students more opportunities to work together and connect with each other.

Other universities such as the University of Michigan opened the 450-room building in 2010, which includes a residential space and an academic tower. The hall also includes a dining area. The goal of this building is to blur the line between academic life and residential life. Indiana University also has a  building that aims to create a space where students can use all forms of technology. Both technology and building design play a crucial role in creating a space where students can collaborate with their peers and gain new skills.

The University of Utah plans to help foster and build student businesses that will launch from their new tech building. Utah University plans to have a building that will help students use any form of new technology as well as accommodate future innovations.

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Free Online Courses: A Positive Experience

Yes, free online courses are now being offered by universities. Karen Harpp, a professor at Colgate University, has opened her course, “The Advent of the Atomic Bomb,” to university alumni and others who make a special request to join. Harpp believed it would be hard for today’s students to imagine living in 1945, experiencing a world war, or for most, serving in the military. With online classes, alumni have the opportunity to share their experiences, which can lead to class discussions getting more interesting.

The first time the online course opened Colgate hoped to enroll 238 students, but it surpassed that goal with 380 alumni. Another course that was offered, “Living Writers”, had 678 alumni enrolled. Ms. Harpp noticed that alumni who had graduated after 2000 were very interested in having access to the course material but less interested in engaging with the students. Older alumni from the Class of 1980 and earlier were most excited to talk with current Colgate students, challenging them on their thoughts and opinions on nuclear warfare. Colgate calls its class and others like it “fusion” courses because there are in-person courses for Colgate students with an additional online component that brings in alumni. The goal of these classes is not just to involve alumni, but to also invite the community to engage with students through online technology.

Now more universities are using free online courses as a form of engaging students with personal experiences that deal with the course content. Harvard University began offering such courses to graduates last year and the University of Wisconsin at Madison plans to offer six courses for their alumni. Now courses are being opened to the community and to various book clubs. With the help of technology and open dialog students receive a new and convenient way to promote “lifelong learning” while incorporating the community.

For more information on this topic visit the link below.

Fabris, Casey. “One Reason to Offer Free Online Courses: Alumni Engagement.” The Chronicle of Higher Education. N.p., 12 Jan. 2015. Web.

Digital Labs Providing Hands on Learning Experiences


Higher education is being called to provide more real-world training and hands on experiences. Now more universities are providing students with more courses that help students learn about real-world situations with the help of technology.

At A.T. Still University of Health Science is using new software that allows students to turn 2D MRI and CT scans into 3D images to better understand everything they see. The virtual anatomy lab, which features 56 computers with touch-screen monitors, a 3D projector, a 175-inch 3D projection screen and anatomy software costs $350,000 dollars. Higher Ed programs like A.T Still University are now shifting more to hands-on learning, which helps students better understand a possible real-world medical experience. While students examine their cadavers they can also print a 3D version of the possible treatment they would give their future patient.

California State University has also created a system that blends traditional experiments with virtual labs. The university calls their project the Virtual Courseware project, which redesigns courses to take advantage of technology to reduce bottlenecks in class enrollment caused by years of budget cuts. Students learn online and conduct virtual labs, but meet in the class once every two weeks. The program coordinator, Robert Desharnais, found that students not only get better grades when using hybrid courses, but the hybrid approach allows the university to double the number of general education science courses it offers without needing extra faculty or classrooms. Which also saves the university money. CSU’s Virtual Labs offer nonscience majors who need to take an intro class in order to graduate the opportunity to learn more from virtual labs than a traditional lab where they would have to follow step-by-step instructions. Virtual labs give students the freedom to think critically, conduct their own hypothesis, collect data and report results rather than following a textbook.

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Video-Recording Studio Boom

Now more than ever colleges and universities are providing video studios for general academic work rather than just for film majors or student news organizations.

Pennsylvania State University has created a simple setup that they call the “One Button Studio.” This room allows students and faculty members to simply plug a flash drive into the studio’s computer and press a button rather than dealing with complicated cameras and different editing software. The button controls the green screen, the lighting, and the video recording. Once the user is done, they just push the button again and retrieve their flash drive, with their new video saved. Penn State noticed how popular the One Button Studio was with faculty and students now they provide 19 One Button Studios across its multiple campuses.

Ohio State opened their studio just last fall and an instructor used the room to record a video of herself experimenting with liquid nitrogen and a blowtorch. Other universities, including Abilene Christian and Notre Dame, now use the model for their own in-house studios. Dartmouth College opened their studio called the “Innovation Studio” in May. Instructors can sign up to reserve the production rooms and can bring their own equipment or borrow some from the college’s media center. The rooms are used for a variety of different educational purposes. For example, universities such as Harvard have interviewed guest speakers in their studios to film the interview, so it can later be shared with classes. Other professors have used the studios to prerecorded lectures for students to watch when class is canceled. Now students don’t have to miss a lecture due to bad weather.

Professors are engaging more with tech-savvy students to provide more digital learning material for higher education.

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