The business of ed-tech: From blue lights to mobile apps

Once ridiculed, mobile technology is bolstering campus safety through innovative apps

mobile-appsIt was in a 2009 safety committee meeting with University of Florida (UF) officials that Jordan Johnson first mentioned the potential impact of mobile technology in bolstering campus safety.

Johnson, then the UF student body president, was met with blank stares and quizzical looks. He acknowledged web-connected smartphones would need to be more ubiquitous on campus before they became a vital part of safety and security measures, but the reaction was less than welcoming.

“It was mainly making a forwarding-thinking comment,” said Johnson, who proposed the use of mobile technology to boost security after a rash of attacks on UF students. “I know they didn’t really take me seriously though. It was pretty clear the idea was seen as ridiculous.”

The committee decided to spend more money on blue light phones, designed for students in danger to stop and call local authorities.

The university now uses the TapShield safety apps made by Johnson, the company’s CEO. With college student smartphone ownership well over 90 percent and campus police looking for cost effective ways to help students feel more secure on late-night walks and other isolated jaunts, the TapShield app quickly became a UF favorite.

The app, once activated, can send real-time location and profile data to emergency responders if and when a student is in need of help. Students using TapShield can crowd-source emergency response from their smartphone and view real-time crime incidents on campus.

(Next page: Improvement by the numbers)


INFOGRAPHIC: Distance education by the numbers

New facts discovered about distance education reveals that our perception may be exaggerated

ditance-learning-onlineAccording to a new analysis of the U.S. Department of Education’s (ED) Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), the current national conception that distance education is “booming,” is an exaggeration, since only a low percentage of postsecondary students are enrolled in a distance education course.

The analysis, conducted by the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies (WCET), which brings higher-ed stakeholders and institutions to “improve the quality and reach” of eLearning programs, and based on the same methodology of Phil Hill of the e-Literate blog, is based off of IPEDS’ first time inclusion of data on students taking distance education courses in Fall 2012.

“With this data, we can finally get a comprehensive, objective look at the current state of distance education adoption nationally,” said Terri Straut of Ascension Consulting, who provided the analysis for WCET.

Analysis of the IPEDS data was conducted on all degree-granting institutions in the U.S., which represents 4,726 institutions of higher education (IHE) in total, both 4-year and 2-year colleges.

Straut’s analysis provides data not just on the number of students enrolled in a distance education (DE) course, but breaks the numbers down by state, as well as type of institution (public, non-profit, and for-profit).

(Next page: Infographic)