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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.

netapp

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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Smart Classroom Strategies: Getting Faculty Involved

UWB ClassroomA recent article published by Campus Technology describes how higher ed institutions nationwide are upgrading to provide faculty with the latest technologies to use for teaching and learning. These technologies include hardware such as clickers, tablets, and video recording equipment along with software and web tools such as Google Apps. However, while many of these initiatives to bring the latest technology in to the classroom are ambitious and designed to enhance learning, what can occur instead is that the technology ends up sitting in a storage closet as faculty who are often willing to try new hardware and software are frustrated with not knowing how to use these tools effectively.

The article outlines five strategies to help faculty use technology tools effectively so that they don’t end up gathering dust:

  1. Create Peer Training Groups – “Instead of equipping classrooms with technology and expecting faculty members to use it, Shackelford said, the university trained a small group of “ambassadors” who help other professors get onboard with the new equipment, software, and applications. Facebook, for example, was introduced not only as a social networking platform for students but also as a communication tool for professors to use with one another and with their students. “
  2. Carve out time for Professional Development – New technology initiatives can be fast and furious as IT departments collaborate with campus academic divisions, network groups, and other entities to meet deployment deadlines. Faculty members can get swept up in the excitement and wind up with classrooms full of technology that they don’t know how to use.
  3. Align IT with academic instructional departments – “We can’t do what we want to do on the development side if we don’t have the IT support,” said Spataro, who often bounces ideas off the IT team.
  4. Create a link between technological innovation and pedagogical effectiveness. If professors know that the time they’re putting into professional development will ultimately help them teach better, then the odds that they will participate and be engaged will be that much higher.
  5. Finally, involve faculty members in the planning process. Getting professors to integrate smart classroom technologies into their lessons, lectures, assignments, and projects can be as simple as opening up the lines of communication early between those instructors and their IT and instructional technology departments.

Read more at Campus Technology: Tactics for the Smart Classroom: Getting Smarter About Faculty Involvement

Making Lectures Effective

There’s no doubt that lectures are often student’s and faculty’s least preferred method of instruction. After all, many believe that lectures are always long, boring, and bad for learning. However, this is not true, because when lectures work, they work well. But how do instructors make them beneficial for both them and the students? The answer is a mix of planning, interactivity, and student engagement. In the September 2011 issue of The National Teaching & Learning Forum*, Jason N. Adsit of SUNY Buffalo offers some advice on how to make lectures more effective and engaging. In this post, we’ll summarize the tips Adsit gives in his article.

First though, why lecture? The fact is, lectures have stood the test of time because according to Adsit, they have “been shown to be particularily effective for

• Setting the context of a topic or field for novice learners.
• Disseminating a common set of material to a broad audience.
• Providing a synthesis of information from various sources.
• Clarifying complex information.
• Transmitting conceptual and systematic knowledge.
• Offering students a model of professional practice, i.e., the lecturer and his/her approach to the subject.”

In other words, lectures are a simple way to reach everyone in a common and effective manner. However, to maximize these benefits, one must design their lecture in a way that effectively engages students and serves as a tool to help the learning process. Here are the tips Adsit gives to do this:

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The MERLOT Pedagogy Portal

MERLOT, an organization widely known for its collection of open source, peer-reviewed learning materials now has another invaluable resource for higher education: The Pedagogy Portal.

The Pedagogy Portal was designed for instructors, or anyone interested in instructional design and development. It is similar to the main MERLOT site, but rather than material that can make up the content of a class, the material found here is designed to improve and broaden one’s teaching skills. Also like the main site, everything is open source and peer edited…in other words, high quality and free!

The Pedagogy Portal has been well-received, and was even featured last March on Duke University’s Center for Instructional Technology blog.

If you are an instructor with any questions about teaching, the Pedagogy Portal is a great resource for answers. Here are some of our favorite sections of the portal:

Chronicle of Higher Ed: Students Assess Their Professors’ Technology Skills

The Chronicle of Higher Education interviewed four tech-savvy students to get their viewpoint on how professors use technology in the classroom. More information about the interview can be found here.