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Merging Library and Information Technology

Hamilton College president, Joan Hinde Stewart, shared with Inside Higher Ed that she considers merging the library and information technology operations into one department. Most colleges keep their libraries and IT departments separate, but at many smaller colleges administers merge both departments in order to curb administrative costs. Other institutions view combining two departments with similar responsibilities as the best way to help serve their faculty members and students.

In February 1994, Gettysburg College considers itself one of the first colleges to move its IT staffers into the library. Creating a new department dubbed the Information Resources. The department only lasted for three and a half years due to different factors such as cramped accommodations, opposition from faculty members and an “unwieldy and unworkable” team structure.

Stewart shared the impact new technologies have on production; merging departments will be the way of the future. In 2002, Hamilton developed a strategic plan, which proposed renovating and expanding the library. The college librarian, Randy Ericson, announced his intention to 2011. In the final report, the committee believed the library should consider collaborating more closely with other departments on campus. For decades the Information Technology Services (ITS) was conveniently located in the library. The new department’s mission is to teach students how to use information and technology to prepare them for the world in which they’re going to live.

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Picture By: Brooksmemorial

Paper App

Taking notes is an important part of getting an education. This is a way for students to not only retain knowledge (through writing notes) and a way to look back on lesson information. Paper is an app that is available for iPhones and iPads through the iTunes App store. This app allows you to take notes to the next level.

The main idea behind this app is being able to organize ideas and courses into what they call “spaces”. With this, you can create an array of different notes which include a multitude of different graphics in which you can manipulate.

One of the features is adding a photo that you can take, or have taken and by using a precise stylus, you can spotlight details and make pen strokes on the photo. Underneath, you can put a note or caption of what the photo means or what the spotlight means. This app also has a multitude of ways to create diagrams. You can create shapes using continuous movement, draw lines and arrows by taping the blue arrows at the end of the lines, fill shapes by dragging the stylus to create a freeform fill (this is especially useful if you are trying to make a graph and want a filled area), and duplicate shapes.

All of these features allow for maximum note taking for students. You can go beyond normal words, but also duplicate important graphs or tables that the teacher had already created on the board. This app can also be a one stop shop as a planner of what you need to complete for your courses as it also has a feature to create to-do lists. All of this information is easily accessible through iPad and iPhones with a simple account.

On their website (www.fiftythree.com) they have a “pencil” or stylus, available to purchase.

George Washington U Adds Video Tools To Extend Classes Beyond Main Campus

Starting in the fall of 2016, students at George Washington University (Foggy Bottom Campus) will be able to interact with other faculty and students in class in real time.

The campus is improving its digital video equipment so that students in other campuses can fully participate in on the class at the main campus. This distance learning option is the first of many technology-enhanced classes that the university has incorporated. They have already begun replacing analog video equipment with digital ones. Paul Schiff Berman, Vice Provost for Online Learning, mentions that “students would be in both places…the faculty member could speak to students in either location and can see, hear and speak to each other. It is one real-time class with students in two locations.” This also poses a great benefit because it would be cheaper to connect remote classrooms together than create two separate courses and have professors transfer back and forth between campuses.

Some classrooms are being fitted with brighter projectors that can pan, tilt and zoom to different parts of the classroom so that students could get a full view of the classroom when they’re watching online. Microphones were also installed to hang from the ceiling.

Students would also be able to just check in their classes with easy, simple applications such as Skype or Google Hangouts. This would save the university the cost and hassle of using specific teleconferencing hardware.


Photo credit: gwhatchet.com


However, there are a couple drawbacks – connecting classrooms together would require licensing and server hardware which would add to the cost.

For more info, visit the article here

Virtual Reality, a Reality

Augmentarium is a virtual and augmented reality lab housed in a 1,000 square foot facility at the University of Maryland’s College Park campus . Opened in December of 2014, this lab immerses people in a computer-generated simulation of an environment while it overlays visuals on the physical environment. This is achieved with a large stereoscopic display using headsets from Oculus, MetaAR, and Vuzix, interaction sensors and eye tracking devices like Microsoft’s Kinect, multi-camera light-field arrays and much more.


While the Augmentarium would be great for video games, it’s also being put to practical use. The leaders of Augmentarium believe that virtual reality would be beneficial to the way surgeons perform operations, the way police officers respond to emergencies or how soldiers navigate through dangerous situations. According to the information on the Augmentarium’s website, the technology it has allows surgeons to be able to “see through” a patient before any action is taken. However, it will be years before this technology will be put to this type of use as there are still some bugs and glitches to wiggle out.

The researches are still working to transform this technology in order to improve applications in real-life situations.

For more information, visit the main article here

How Data From Your LMS Can Impact Student Success

Oral Roberts University started collecting data from students through the use of Fitbits and Garmin vivofits.These devices would track the students’ movement, heart rate and sleep pattern that would then be recorded into the university’s gradebook, D2L. The results of this data would be used to determine whether or not students should be more physically active. The main idea of this purpose is to show how important it is to be able to collect data and have it make a difference in decision making. IT leaders share 8 ways to make use of the data coming out campus learning management systems:

Adopt a Tool That Anybody Can Use

Heads of enrollment management and institutional research went to several meetings to help build a “robust reporting and analytics environment”. They would try their best to answer questions on the fly.

Use Analytics to Identify Faculty Innovation

John Fritz, assistant VP of instructional technology & new media, started to come up with ways to understand how faculty were using the application to obtain information that his administrators wanted. Fritz found Tim Hardy, an accounting instructor. Hardy set up preconditions in his LMS for his students to pass before moving on to other course material. For example, he would require his students to read the chapter, watch a video and score a full score on a quiz before moving on. This resulted in a 20% increase in students’ finals.

Help People Refocus With Facts

Initially, Hardy’s students were not in favor of the preconditions to move on to other class material. However, the important aspect of it all was that the results showed improvement. The same applies for faculty members – they need to push through the resistance of their students and own practices.

Promote Student Ownership of Learning

The students tend to get more motivated when they are able to see how they are doing compared to other students in their class. Fritz classifies LMS usage in three levels: document repository, communication and assessments. The assessments level is where students are able to see their grades and compare them to other students. The “Check My Activity” feature allows students to do just that.


Leverage Analytics for Highest Impact

One of the key drivers to long term institutional success is focusing on what’s most critical to get students through. Not only is it important for universities to keep track of which courses have the most failures and withdrawals, but also examine the outcome of students going through gateway courses. Fritz mentions that in UMBC, faculty reverse engineer successful courses and incorporate ideas from them into their own.

Get Access to More Data

It is important for universities to have access to all of the data related to their courses. Utah State University had access to for years’ worth of accumulated LMS data which “opened up some pretty incredible opportunities” and they “got no end to what questions we want to ask”

Make Data More Reachable

It is also invaluable to make sure that students don’t get lost in a course. Professors would need to have access to see how many students are turning in assignments, if they are last minute or late, and how many assignments were missed. After that data is collected, the next step would be sending messages to students who have struggled with their assignments to make sure that the professor actually cares.

Continually Seek New Ways to Expand LMS Data Usage

The university is able to track how students navigate through their courses. A faculty member is making use of this data for promotion and tenure. He wants to make the course better and decrease the ambiguity


For more information, visit the main article here