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iSee, An App Designed to Revolutionize Campus Counseling Centers

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Researchers at Michigan State University (MSU) are hoping to help on-campus counseling centers with their new smartphone app called iSee. Statistics show that a little less than half of the students on campus report feelings of depressing but only one third of those students actively seek treatment. For those who do seek counseling, scheduling an appointment could take upwards of three weeks to a month before the student is finally able to get in touch with the counselor. Zhang, the lead project manager, hopes to streamline this process while creating a stronger relationship between the students and the counselors.

The app takes advantage of a smartphone’s built-in GPS, motion tracking, and microphone as well as a wristband to record a student’s physical activity, social interaction, and sleeping behaviors. This data can be used by the counselors to quickly get to know their patients and adjust treatment as the data is continuously updated. Even if the student isn’t actively seeing a counselor, they will be able to access the apps self-care which will guide them through meditation, play soothing music, and even help them form better sleeping habits.

So far, iSee is still in the process of integrating all the different functionality from both the smartphones and wristbands to the app. The team is seeing steady progress with plans of testing the app on the MSU campus and eventually deploy the app to all campus counseling centers. iSee’s success will help counseling centers increasing demands for mental health services.

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Optimizing Students’ dependency on College Wi-Fi

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In today’s day and age, WI-FI is as much of a necessity as dining halls, health centers or laundry services. A report from EDUCAUSE Center for Analysis and Research found that 61 percent of college students connect at least two devices to the college network. With this kind of logic, colleges will have to ensure that students are able to access the environment needed to succeed. Streaming sites like Netflix will take up a lot of the university’s bandwidth, costing a sizable amount. Houston Community College, with 75,000 students across 26 campuses, reported that 65 percent of their wireless traffic was video based.

Besides just the bandwidth draining from YouTube, Hulu or Netflix, there are also cloud applications that can take up a lot of the network. Cloud apps that automatically sync files like Box and Google Drive will use up a lot of the network to even slow it down. File syncing applications are designed to continually operate in the background to keep the system running. Like file syncing apps, OS updates also run in the background with new software releases can use a large amount of bandwidth. Dropbox has a policy of taking up to 75 percent of bandwidth available when it’s updating, unless turned off.

Every year more students will bring in more devices which can only mean there needs to be an increase in access points as well to accommodate this. University of California, Irvine got even more proactive by installing 1,315 Cisco Systems in its residence halls. With the Cisco technologies, UNCW network administrators were able to determine the number of users on any access point to adjust to achieve the best coverage possible. There are also limits that are placed on some Wi-Fi based performances like using Netflix. They could set policies that block the or prioritize certain apps over others to ensure that testing doesn’t crash while people try to stream the next episode.

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Unity Offers Gaming Software Licenses to Universities for Free

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How does working with real gaming engines in the classroom sound? Like every programmer’s dream, right? The gaming giant Unity Technologies is offering their software to selective colleges/universities around the U.S. for free. Students are able to work on the platform to create many great projects that include virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). These two fields have become the new craze in the gaming world, medical field and the classrooms. This could be extremely helpful in reinforcing interdisciplinary subjects.

The programmers could work with current generation biology and art students to help design programs for the next generation of students using VR or AR. There could be a time where students could wear headsets to look at 3D images of the brain and dissect it into all the individual parts without even needing a scalpel. The possibilities of this software is limitless.

While many different students use base line programs nothing gives that true feeling of being a coder like working on a big-name’s software. While the program is currently only for a selective few it has put nearly 300,000 students in the hands of Unity’s software since 2015 and is growing every day. Which means only more to come and more students to create. Unity states that they hope to develop workforce skills and continue in the advancement of individual’s careers.

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Faculty Support

According to a recent Campus Technology 2016 Teaching with Technology survey, about a third of educators do not feel sufficiently supported in their use of technology on campus. The poll surveyed faculty members across the country about the technology used for their teaching and learning, what they wish for, and what they see in the future.

Although, it seems as if most faculty don’t need that much help. The majority of educators surveyed were confident in their ability to use technology with a solid 79 percent saying that their skills in tech are “maxed out” or they had the knowledge to “get the job done”. While on the other end, less than 3 percent acknowledged that they have tech skills that are “below average” or nonexistent. However, the faculty aren’t always confident in their students. More than half of the teachers, 52 percent, state that their students are only average in terms of technology; while 39 percent said that their students are either excellent or above average.

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A science faculty member at a community college in Nebraska emphasized that while students have skills in games and Facebook, they are almost clueless about school or office software that is used for work rather than entertainment. When help is needed, about 30 percent of the instructors go the help desk or IT department before using another source. That’s followed by a 29 percent that use online resources, peers, and instructional technologists. The instructor from Nebraska stated that the survey isn’t fully represented, with self-service training as his choice. At his institution, Lynda.com is made free to all faculty and is a video streaming course service that “helps when trying to learn new tech skills, which we can then share with our students.”

A faculty member from the library of an Indiana university advised there be integration of instructional designers into academic departments. She also suggested that we stop viewing online classes as something new because by now, they should be a “part of the regular teaching landscape.”

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User Shadowing to Improve Student Quality of Life

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UX (user experience) teams are very important to the app development process because it gives developers perspective on how a user will use their product. This feedback guides developers to make an app that meets user expectations and even adds features the user might find useful but wasn’t looking for in the first place. To get a better insight on how a user might use their product, the developer will employ a team to ‘shadow’ certain users in order to understand what issues the user runs into and how they use the app itself.

K-12 leaders are already using the shadowing method to improve their students’ quality of life. By shadowing students for a single day of school, teachers learned how much time their students spent waiting in line, how little interaction they had with their teachers, and how exhausting the school day was. Higher education leaders hope to create a UX team someday in order to improve the design of their college and fit academics around the life of a student rather than having it the other way around.

President Meghan Hughes of the Community College of Rhode Island has already started employing some UX shadowing on her campus with some success. Through shadowing, she learned how class schedules conflicted heavily with public transportation schedules causing students to waste time just getting to and from school. Most college currently don’t have a UX team but higher education leaders one-day hope to implement the shadowing method (among many others) to improve their students’ quality of life. Some improvements currently being considered are class registration, class scheduling, textbook costs, financial aid, and the ease of the school’s online systems.

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