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Adding More Technology Reduces the Costs of Teaching?

The hype and excitement over technology-based learning environments have taken universities by storm. Universities are now looking into ways to incorporate online and hybrid courses in order to help students who need this convenience but educators also believe that once universities get a good handle on technology-based classes it will overall save them money and reduce the cost for students.

However, after the hype has dissipated, Randall Bergen, assistant to the president of Bethel University, has found that adding more technology hasn’t necessarily meant reduced spending for universities. This has left him discouraged and the hype has worn off.

Although online and hybrid courses would be most convenient and reduce the sizes of classes, it could also jeopardize the organization of discussion based courses such as liberal-arts related majors.  Most educators believe that to fully make implementing technologies more cost efficient there needs to be a model or change in how the university is structured. This would cause the entire institution to change and to add more time and dedication to educating professors and getting their faculty the technology tools they need to be successful.

However, for courses that are math and solutions based, universities have the greatest opportunity to not only have automatic grading of homework, but also quizzes and timed exams. Though this might insinuate opportunities in cheating. But by cutting most of the time that professors would use on grading, they could be teaching multiple classes of the same subject to allow more students in these specific courses.

There is no particular solution thus far, however with more collaboration with other universities, there can be a cost-reducing use of technology.

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Modeling Classroom Success: Teaching with 3D Printers

The UWB Makerspace is up and running, but many schools are looking at programs that teach how to use 3D printers as well as provide 3D printing tools to their students. XYZprinting just announced their new STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics) program, a curriculum exchange program aimed at K-12 teachers, using 3D printed materials and techniques in the classroom.

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Most of the interesting stuff is on the college level, where it’s being used in a variety of applications for research. This is where most of the curricula being developed across the industry is focused, as well. Stratasys (the 3D printer manufacturer) has also developed a college-level curriculum for 3D printing, focusing on its benefits and philosophy as a platform but also on practical concepts. UWB remains ahead of the curve in 3D printer access and utility, but it will need to continually reinvent itself over the coming months and years to stay on top of emerging technologies. For example, Virginia Tech follows a vending-machine style format for 3D printing that somewhat resembles Dawg-Prints: Students swipe their card before printing the materials they need, and are billed from their student account.

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4 Trends That Will Recharge Higher Ed IT in 2016

Campus Technology performed a survey to point out technology trends that would impact leaders and professors for this new year. Below are the four topics they found.

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Embracing Virtual Augmented Worlds: The general public will be more exposed to virtual reality and augmented reality. Google, Microsoft, Sony, HTC and Facebook will be releasing their own VR devices to transport users to programmed worlds. Besides entertainment, VR is also being used to help people in critical conditions. Burn patients at the University of Washington Harborview Burn Center go through VR trials to distract them from the pain. VR cams are being set in refugee camps to provoke empathy and aid. Frog Design, a design and strategy firm, wrote that VR would connect those “otherwise isolated people and groups…rather than getting lost in virtual fantasy, [they find themselves] more deeply connected to reality.”

Threat Intelligence Permeates Security: Experts have predicted that the basic problems of cybersecurity will still be present. Users will still have some of their sensitive data stolen. Organizations would be targeted by hacktivists who want to damage the reputation of their victims. As a result, these organizations will try to use predictive modeling to have a more active defense.

Caring for the customer: Organizations will be focusing on the level of importance given to the customer experience. Forrester Analyst Brian Hopkins predicted that spending in business technology will double this year. One of the areas of investment will be hyper personalization which compiles data about customers to create a fuller picture of who they are and better serve them.

Present Tense Replace Future Tense: Institutions have found it important for people to breathe and take a break from their work. This helps employees refresh their brain, reduce stress and anxiety, find a measure of balance and deepen their thinking. Some articles have advised people to stop and collect themselves before going to meetings or starting work.

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U Boot: A 21st Century Alternative to Graduate Degrees

Northeastern University has recently premiered a two-month course in data analytics, offering a huge amount of experience and a high-quality education at a low price—just without college credit. The program is intended for students who already have a bachelor’s degree and want to further their postgrad education, but don’t want to make the financial and temporal investment into a master’s degree. This also allows curriculum to change and shift as employers demand different skillsets.

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Private “boot camp”-style courses are nothing new, of course. Northeastern’s course is unique because it’s the first program to be offered as a supplement to (rather than a replacement for) more traditional degreed college, and it’s being brought by an accredited university of higher learning, rather than a third-party company.

There are a couple downsides to this sort of program, some more obvious than others. Currently, this is the only university to offer such content, and as a result, it may battle a stigma for some time as an inferior form of learning.

UW Bothell is currently seeking more classroom space for more traditional courses, but perhaps in the future this sort of boot camp program could be offered in tandem with our graduate curriculum.

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Western Oregon University Install NetApp Flash Storage

Western Oregon University has a new flash storage system. The new system has increased the school’s storage capacity and speed.

The University administrators use IBM Congos, which is a business intelligence software. Professors are using the Moodle e-learning system. The system will help instructors incorporate videos, online quizzes and other digital content into their courses.

The university began to experience a lag in their extensive media-rich teaching and learning systems. Only 250 of the university’s 5,200 undergraduate and 900 graduate students could log on all at once. Students also had delays logging on from their personal desktops and launched applications The university searched for possible solutions to fix the problem, which led to the  NetApp, a provider of data storage and management systems. The NetApp teamed up with Mountain States Networking to create the NetApp ef550 flash array.

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Picture by Clark College Libraries.

Western Oregon University reported that they are now able to support 10 times as many concurrent users of media-rich applications, with 95% percent less processing time. The backup times has also reduced from over an hour to only 9 minutes! Bill Kernan, CIO of Western Oregon University, reported that with the NetApp flash storage system the school is able to reach a capacity of more than 1,200 concurrent users, while providing excellent system performance campuswide.

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